Sunday, March 30, 2014

An SMS From The Past



One of the most interesting aspects of photographs is that they capture an instant in time and fix it for eternity. I am not talking about the carefully composed pictures of grand old structures - such as the west front of York Minster illustrated above - but the unpretentious snap that shows grandad with his false teeth falling out or baby Stanley pulling a silly face. But what some vintage postcards miss on one side, they more than adequately make up for on the reverse side. The card comes from Walter and was sent to his cousin who was living in Hull. I have no more of an idea who either of them are than I have the story of how the card made its way from Miss Clarkson's sideboard to a 50p remainders box in an old junk shop. But we have that frozen moment in time : it is the morning of the 18th June 1915. In France, the Second Battle of Artois was in full swing, but in York, Walter was on his way to Ripon. Perhaps he was moving house, perhaps he was part of a massive troop movement in anticipation of leaving for the mud of Flanders. Who knows. Our frozen moment in time just sees him taking the time to buy a picture postcard and pen a swift message to his cousin in Hull. It was a text message of the time; a SMS that has survived down the years. It is rather sad for the digital archaeologists of the future that few of today's text messages will survive in the same way.

9 comments:

  1. I would go with your guess as it being a troop train.

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  2. Not so sure that some of our SMS won't linger and become visible. It all depends on how clever future folks are in retrieval of our cloud.
    Interesting idea about where Walter was headed. Only his cousin may have the answer.

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  3. I do love old postcards. I just bought a few this week! Yes, it's sad to think our great grandkids won't have this kind of thing of ours to find in an old box or attic.

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  4. That is just what makes post cards so magical! I still send some, when I can find them, and if I don't end up keeping them for myself. Note to self, buy two of each!

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  5. I often think that the future's biographers and historians are going to have a thin time of it. Electronic media is wonderful but it does not seem to be made to last, does it!

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  6. As I read the msg, I thought I hope it wasn't the last she heard from him.

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  7. Four kisses for a postcard to a cousin. Does that seem a lot? I've stayed in that building on the left of the picture. It's rather a nice hotel.

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  8. Jenny's point is well made. Historians of the future will not have that rich archive of correspondence that we have available to us. Will somebody preserve our blogs, somehow?

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  9. It's a good thing that the postmark was legible or we would have less to wonder about,

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