Pumpkin Power: Embossed Antique Postcards

Do you send Hallowe’en cards? Judging from the racks of greeting cards in stores these days, many people do.

Stores selling Hallowe’en costumes and party gear are now occupying vacated commercial space. October issues of magazines offer decorating ideas including “Boo-tiful” tablescapes. The current Better Homes and Gardens special edition (2016) displays patterns for creative pumpkin carving.

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This magazine, founded in 1922, was not even in circulation when my Grandma Longenecker received these postcards, this one an invitation from cousin Lulu, mailed from the Mount Joy, PA post office in October 1908.

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1908halloweenlulu

Another one with a more spooky vibe (freakish cats setting ghostly pumpkins airborne) requests that Fannie “Bring refreshments.”

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halloweenpostcardrefreshments

The venue is John Ebersole’s barn in Kingston, PA. The date: Tuesday, October 31, 1911. According to Google Maps, Kingston is 112 miles from Middletown, Fannie Martin’s hometown.

By car, in this century it would take about 2 hours. Did Grandma Fannie attend? Was her transportation horse and buggy or a Model T Ford that was in production as early as 1908? It could have been Model A Ford manufactured in 1903 – 1904. And I wonder how refreshments would fare during the long trip?

I am pleased to have access to such family artifacts, but I have to speculate about so many details surrounding the events.

Grandma would have known, but she’s not here any more, so I can’t ask her. I can live out my days not knowing details about a minor, but interesting, event. If I devised a story from this event, I’d have to indulge in “perhapsing,” a creative non-fiction technique I discussed in this post.

Still, I’m curious!


What artifacts have stoked your curiosity about family events of long ago?

How do you fill in the gaps when details are vague or absent?


Coming next: Are you are with-it?

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50 thoughts on “Pumpkin Power: Embossed Antique Postcards

  1. I seem to recall seeing some greeting cards in the shops but I’m sure there weren’t many. Halloween hasn’t taken off in such a big way in this country though more and more kids seem to attend parties and dress up. Our celebration has always been Bonfire Night on Nov 5th when we burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes and set off fireworks.
    I think I’m a few years off the time when I’ll be dragged back into that with the grandchildren.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. American kids would get fired up with bonfires too but Hallowe’en has become a huge commercial enterprise, rivaling Christmas here in the States.

      Thanks as always for the comment here and the Twitter share. Massive hugs to you too, Sir David!

      For other readers like me who needed a memory refreshment – This from Wikipedia: “Guy Fawkes Night originates from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a failed conspiracy by a group of provincial English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England and replace him with a Catholic head of state.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m surprised that conservative Mennonites in Pa. celebrated Halloween in any way! But ah yes, this brings to mind for me barn parties at our farm in Indiana. My parents threw them several years in a newer section of our barn, the “sheep shed,” and decked it all out with corn shocks and streamers for “the old maid’s class” (astonishing language there!) Yes, the singles group, which did include a few bachelors as well. My father was the teacher of that group for many years and he took great joy in holding hayrides and apple bobbing games and watching a few romances spark up, who endured merciless teasing. Those “old” maids were all of 27 – 30 at the time, I imagine. Not that old!

    I’m doing my best to fill in the gaps of my own memories here, and remembering a few photos in my mother’s album from one barn party. Reminiscing all inspired by your great cards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Melodie. The Longeneckers were odd and audacious. As I mention in a memoir chapter, we went all out for Hallow’en though I don’t know any other Bossler Mennonite families that did the same. This holiday was not specifically mentioned as a no-no in the Lancaster Mennonite Conference rules though we were exhorted to abstain from worldliness in general. I’m sure the elders wouldn’t have approved.

      And yes, I am astonished by your father’s Sunday School class reserved for “old maids.” I was an emerging one unmarried at age 26. Ha!

      We’ve been without internet for three days now, so I want to pop over to your blog that mentions (gasp!) Mennonites on the red carpet.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning, Marian! Such fascinating artifacts and questions. I, too, wonder if Fannie attended that Tuesday party that was such a distance away. Did family members own a Model T? I love your collection of family postcards, especially with some over a century old. I don’t have anything about like that. I do wonder about some people and events I’ve seen in old family photos, and I wish I had asked my grandfathers more about what life was like when they were growing up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, my grandpa Henry Longenecker (husband to Fannie) was the founder of Longenecker Farm Supply and owned cars. I know he owned a Model T Ford and family lore has it that he chauffeured President Wilson in a Model A. My nephew did a college report on it, so I must check for more details.

      As you can see, we have digital copies here, but I don’t think the family can part with them. They are beautiful and historic, so they will be passed on to the next generation. Thanks, Merril.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Marian, your post reminds me how one small remnant from the past can spark the need to find the story behind the relic. I don’t have as many family relics as you but I do have several handwritten journals written as letters to my paternal aunt by my grandfather for a brief period in 1943. It is a vivid glimpse of American life during WWII. A treasure beyond measure as I “see” my grandpa and the times in which he lived. Thanks for sparking this memory. Stories keep our ancestors alive for generations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right: Stories keep our ancestors alive for generations!

      I have lots of artifacts and you have journals – both priceless when it come to reconstructing family history. Maybe your family writings will materialize into book # 3 – no pressure, Kathy!

      Thank you for both commenting here and sharing too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just sent Halloween cards to my grandchildren Owen and Julia and to Mehjor, my little friend through Bridge of Hope. I tucked in little treats.

    My mother told me about the parties of her youth. They made “haunted houses” in hay mows. I remember. That the passed out peeled grapes in the dark while whispering “eyeballs”!

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I didn’t notice auto-corrects. My sly comment about “pingbacks” expressed a hopeful wish for thank-you’s from those who received your Hallowe’en treats. 😉

          Our internet has not been working for 3 days now. I hope you can see this, Shirley.

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  6. ‘Perhaps’ they traveled by an enclosed horse drawn carriage with decadent apple delicacies.
    Halloween is a perfect opportunity to ‘dress up’ to be something you’ve always wanted to be. See you at ‘Trunk of Treats’ with my costume. Will you be surprised?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gorgeous cards from so long ago! ‘All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day’. I confess I copy and pasted as I knew it was about All Hallows Day … Thanks Marian!
    We caught on to it some years ago and the shops are full of cards, costumes and creepies.
    How to answer your question – how do I fill in the gaps of long ago? I have a wish to travel to Norway home of my paternal grandmother, to Scotland, home of maternal grandmother. When I travel through the Karoo I think of my maternal grandfather – so it’s thinking and wondering that keeps me out of mischief – mostly 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope you heard me chuckle at your last statement, Susan. You don’t seem very mischievous to me, but that’s probably because I see the serious side on your blog. Ha!

      You have a rich heritage: Norwegian, Scottish and South African. I had to look it up, but I think Karoo is a national forest in the western cape. Thanks for your geographical tidbit that made me curious, Susan – and for reading and commenting here.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love these old cards and the ideas they inspire to later generations. Yes, we should have asked our grandparents more questions, but we were busy growing up and raising our children. We just have to surmise. There were many fun parties on the farm with all ages attending. I have fond memories of Halloween as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Canadian farm seems like the perfect place to have spooky parties . . . the hay mow, broken-down corn stalks in fields, maybe a scarecrow or two.

      And yes, we have to be practical: We were busy growing up and raising children, so no need to fret about the gaps. Like you, I’ll cherish what memories I have. Thanks, Darlene.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I always enjoy reading about Halloween, after all, it’s my birthday! My siblings were much more interested in trick or treating than they were my birthday. I don’t even remember having a birthday cake! Then as my own children grew up Halloween repeated itself! I have gotten some really funny, cute Halloween birthday cards!
    I do share the day with a couple of great people! Jane Pauley! and Ethel Waters! I know about them…they’ve never even heard of me! Ethel is in heaven now and someday I’ll meet her and give her a big hug! And in the meantime, I pray for my friend and fellow birthday celebrator, Jane Pauley. I don’t know where she stands spiritually, but I love and admire her.
    Sorry, I’ve gotten off the subject here…Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can send you little memes like birthday cakes if I reply to posts with my iPhone. Unfortunately, I tried but the balloon and cake with candles didn’t show up here, so here’s another less showy attempt, ice cream cone with hugs ❤ ((( )))

      Thank you for highlighting Jane Pauley and Ethel Waters, women I admire. I share a birthday year with Lesley Stahl, so we are in good company, Anita.

      Happy Hallowe'en and most importantly, Happy, Clappy Burfday!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You do have some wonderful mementoes regarding your family history, Marian. I like to think that your grandmother did go to that party: she seemed like a very sociable soul. Regrettably, I do not possess any artifacts of my previous generations other than a lovely china tea set from my husband’s great aunt. We did have a piano and a side board which had also belonged to her, but had to sell them when we moved town as new house could’take accommodate them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are just things, Fatima. I overheard a friend who lost a spectacular diamond ring saying that. However, her husband took pity and bought her a new one – ha!

      It’s especially hard to have to part with possessions that are bound up with sentimental thoughts, still you have memories and a vibrant life right now. Your gravatar photo of travel reminds me how much I want and need to get away from the pressure of “things” right now. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Got it, Fatima. It’s amazing how much I auto-correct in my mind because I read so fast. Actually sometimes I don’t see other’s errors until they call attention to them here. My own glare at me on other’s websites and I feel powerless to change them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too! I send fewer, but like you I buy and keep because cards have a tactile quality not available online and reflect a time investment: Someone thought of me –> bought the card –> addressed it –> also added a stamp.

      Besides books, cards were the hardest things to sort/discard because of the attachment to the friendships they symbolized.

      Go ahead with your sending and keeping – some may be time-capsule worthy.
      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a very definite memory of our first Halloween experience in Canada, when I was ten years old. My dad did not like us to go begging from door to door, and also thought it was a non Christian activity. Rather than forbid us to go, he offered an alternative. He would order a surprise package from the Eaton’s catalogue and we would enjoy those treats. We all agreed, but after we opened the package my brother, the oldest in the family, sneaked out the door and went anyhow. My dad didn’t stop him. After that year dad allowed us to go. I was small for my age and so I even went when I was 13, but that was the last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoy the bait & switch technique of your dad. We anabaptists then struggled with church expectations and the parental “pull.” In the end though, it all turned out as it should have. 😊

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  12. Marian — The family artifacts you have never cease to amaze me. I don’t think I’ve ever received or sent a Halloween greeting card, but I certainly loved doing the trick-or-treating part of the holiday. My sister and I would come home with our bounty, sit a bit apart from each other on the living room floor, and then “Let the Trading Begin!” We’d trade for what seemed hours. Then mom and dad would write our names on our separate bags and put them on top of the refrigerator with a dire warning — “If you eat more than one piece per day, we’ll hold your heads under water ’til the bubbles stop!”

    It’s interesting that our bounty-level diminished so quickly. With some adult hindsight under our belts, my sister and I are both convinced that mom and dad helped themselves quite often.

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    1. I like your parents’ scary-sweet approach to the Hallowe’en bounty. When our kids were at home I bought lots of candy for the trick or treaters, which I must have helped myself to – as you may have with Evan. (Tee Hee) By the way, your parents are masters of hyperbole!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. We’re in Kansas now, Marian, and yesterday I took my mom for a ride in her wheelchair to go to the “Keepsakes and Collectibles” display. Both of your colorful pumpkin postcards were there! One had been framed, and the other was decoupaged on the lid of a wooden box. Mom laughed and pointed when she saw them, so seeing them on your post today made me relieve that happy response! Thanks, Marian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unbelievable but not so, as our parents/grandparents bought bought cards that were in vogue then.

      You say you are in Kansas now. Are you sure your middle name is not Dorothy? 🙃

      Thank you bunches for another anecdote to add to the synchronicity file, Marylin.

      Like

  14. So lovely to have kept those post cards from Halloween…I’d like to to think Grandma Fannie did go to the party and have a wonderful time 😀
    Like the chap said above Halloween is relatively new in our country . We have always celebrated Nov 5th, bonfire night , you quite rightly said that we celebrate Guy Forks nearly blowing up the Houses of Parliament …what a funny thing to celebrate . We used to stand in the park with an old guy we’d hand made asking for a penny for the guy ….how things change 😂😂😂
    Cherryx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. About Guy Fawkes bonfires – anything for a party, so I say! Life being what it is, we’ve got to take any chance we can to celebrate; otherwise the outlook is grim – and we can’t have that now can we, Cherry! 🙂

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  15. Wow Marian, it never ceases to amaze me how many artifacts you still have in your possession from your family line. The cards are wonderful. I’ve never thought of sending Halloween cards. Maybe it was a bigger thing back in the decades? I remember finding a small autograph book in my grandmother’s house after we cleaned it out when she died. It seemed to be one kids got signatures from others in school at the end of the year. People were wishing her well for the next year. I still have it. She never had much of a personality and it was interesting to see that by her writing, even back when, she seemed a distant and emotionless person, lol. At least I know I didn’t take after her! LOL 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Distant and emotionless 😐 would never describe you, Debby. God obviously dipped into a different gene pool when he created you – ha!

      Like you, I found some of my Grandpa Longenecker’s autograph books when we cleared out Mother’s house. They strike me as quaint.

      I’m glad you enjoyed these – expect more to celebrate the Thanksgiving season!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Wonderful old cards, Marian. Halloween isn’t my favorite (my kids usually got sick from eating too much candy). I like the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain, the beginning of the dark time, and thinking of Halloween as All Soul’s Day.

    I’m not adverse to “perhapsing” when it doesn’t conflict with the facts I know. As a reader, I like knowing the difference between known facts and the author’s fertile imagination although I don’t find that necessary when re-creating a half-remembered conversation.

    Old photos stirred up many a blog for me. I still haven’t digitalized many years of slides from ~1985 to ~2005, Vic’s time of passionate and constant photography. My son’s and my walls have many beautiful enlargements of his most striking portraits of people and flowers. Lots of memories still imprisoned in those slide notebooks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I expect you will make rich discoveries perhaps in winter as you surrender to the “dark time” to rest, renew. Twenty years of slide notebooks of people and flowers present quite a gallery – but another indication that loved ones like Vic still have giving power.

      As to “perhapsing” – I’m toying with the idea of setting a particularly sensitive family happening in a different time but in the same place, same people . . . and wonder what sort of disclaimer would have to precede Chapter 1. Nothing’s set in stone yet, just plotting and scheming. Who knew memoir could get so complicated. Ah, there’s the rub!

      Thank you for the facts, insights, and revelations. (Yes, I had to look up Samhain.) You always help me think. Thank you, Elaine.

      Liked by 1 person

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