Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Note From 1937

vintage postcard from Alton, Illinois, July 14, 1937

Today started out on  frustrating note.  We have two Macintosh computers, and they had both been mostly out of commission since Monday.  I spent hours on the telephone, and had tech guys at my house twice, frowning and speculating, and not getting the problem fixed.  Finally I went to my cable company and requested a different modem, and made a appointment with my Mac tech to come get it all set up again.  In the meantime I was edgy, shaky, in withdrawal.  So rather than fume about not being able to work online, or to check my emails that have been coming and going fast and furious in preparation for my trip on Saturday, I went down to the local consignment shop to look over old postcards.

This one struck me immediately.  A grasshopper beating a drum could be humorous, but it struck me as ominous.  Nineteen thirty-seven. The Dust Bowl.  Lots of people were "beating it," leaving farms destroyed by drought and grasshoppers to start over on the west coast.  Think The Grapes of Wrath.   Tonight I read the back of the old penny postcard:

Dear Ruthie and Willis,
Sent the folks one (a postcard) of the dust storm.  Thought this would be good for you.  Never did see so many grasshoppers.  Julia and I slept out in the yard most of the night under the stars.  You should try it.

Oddly enough the book I plan to read after I get home at the end of the month is Tim Eagan's nonfiction account of the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.

Oh, the computers are working fine once more.  I can relax.


Kim said...

That's the kind of stuff I have a hard time cutting up and using in collage. I love the message. I'll look forward to your review on the book. Somehow I missed Steinbeck along the way and read Grapes of Wrath for the first time this year. Fantastic and wonderful to read during these times.

Do high school kids really understand these wonderful pieces of literature they have to read? I'm not sure I could.

laura said...

Nothing is more frustrating than computer troubles, except perhaps a plague of locusts!
I can't imagine sleeping outside with the grasshoppers ... yech!
I've had that book on my to-read shelf for awhile too!

bluelilac said...

I am always amazed when people tell me MACs never have problems. Being a PC person for so many years I keep staring at the beautiful MACs and wondering if one day I might bite the bullet and get one.
In the meantime I am glad your computer is up and running.
The grasshopper story is so interesting. So many stories untold are there to imagine.

Rayne said...

That is a slightly creepy and ominous image. Extra cool that there was a personal note on the back of the postcard.
I am glad you are back on the 'net.

Mjacobs said...

I saw this image on Flickr first and only saw the humorous side of it. Now I've read your story, there is not much left to laugh about. An illustration of the importance of context, and the difficulties translators must face: the good ones must not only know the "other" language very well, but als the other culture and history.

Margaret Ann said...

A fantastic find...Love this! :)