Postcrossing Blog

Stories about the Postcrossing community and the postal world

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I met Eric (aka eta55) last year, when we were both invited to talk about Postcrossing for the Transatlantic Educator Dialogue podcast. During our conversation, he struck me as a really interesting person, so I wanted to bring him to the blog for a spotlight interview. Enjoy!

How did you get started sending postcards? What is your earliest memory of them?

I have always been interested in correspondence. My uncle served in the Marines, and he used to send me letters from when he was deployed overseas. I thought it was amazing to get a letter from a foreign country when I was a little kid! I really never knew very much about postcards though. I knew they existed, but never really sent or received any until I joined Postcrossing.

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I read a news article about it somewhere, but I don’t remember the source. That was in the fall of 2017. I then encountered a teacher during a holiday gathering who was using it in her classroom to get her students engaged with other cultures. Our encounter inspired me to pursue it further, and I joined Postcrossing in January of 2018 and have been enjoying it ever since.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

Here is a photo of my mailbox:

An American style mailbox stands on a lawn, surrounded by blooming flowers

It is out here in the real world, hungry for postcards!

The post office I use most frequently is a nondescript little shop front in a small strip mall on the way to work. Not particularly photogenic, many post offices in America are not, sadly. It has a postmaster and one clerk. The bulk of the cards I have sent have gone from there, so it has been instrumental in my involvement with Postcrossing. The postmaster got covid in December 2021 and was in and out of the hospital (very dedicated woman, she kept returning to work too soon and they had to call an ambulance for her twice!). She was a long termer, and was struggling throughout January 2022. I reached out on the Postcrossing forums and asked for postcards to be sent to the postoffice for when she returned to work and welcome her back. She got over thirty well-wishing cards from all over the world, and the next time I came in she told all of the customers they just had to wait, and went through each card with me in tears. Another story of Postcrossing and the power of loving gifts to strangers. I am pleased to report that she is doing much better now, back to her old self, and hand cancelling all of my postcards with glee every time I drop by!

Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I can’t show you a picture of it, because my favorite postcard is always the next one I will receive! There is hope and love and potential coming to my mailbox, and each card has a unique message, and very often a delightful image. Each one gives me the opportunity to go learn about the person who sent it, and to explore where they live, and learn more about our world. Each one creates a connection, even if only fleeting. Someone sent me a little gift a few days or a few weeks or even a few months ago, and when it comes today, that will be my favorite.

I do have favorite topics. I am always moved when I get a battered, scarred card that has fought its way through to me, often after a very long trip. I recently got a card from a postcrosser in the Bahamas, it had taken over two years to get to me from an island in the ocean about 750 miles away. I messaged the sender since it could no longer be registered, and they were delighted to hear that I had finally got it! Another connection! I always like to get meetup cards, because they mean that a group of postcrossers has actually crossed the gulf between sender and receiver and gathered together to celebrate each other and these connections. I met a group of Irish postcrossers via a couple of virtual meetups and I got a really special card from them recently. A few weeks ago a group of them travelled to Spain to attend a wedding of two of their group! So the Irish meetup card from the wedding in Spain I think really speaks to what I love about this hobby!

This is an impossible question, really, each one is my favorite!

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

Hard to pick just one thing. There is the joyful anticipation of walking out to the mail box, for sure. I think what I really like best is the little puzzle of finding a way to spread some joy to a particular stranger. You draw an address, and you have no idea of who it will be or where they will be located. Their bio and their favorites may provide you some ideas. Then you have to find the right card, and the right stamps, and craft a message to create a little package of a present all on a postcard. Sometimes you decorate it. I think another really joyful part of the process is the “hurray” messages. When you find out that little piece of cardboard that you released into the chaotic universe actually made it across oceans and continents and into the hands of another human that you don’t really know, and that they were glad to get it and that it brought a smile to their face! The fact that can actually happen, over and over again, thrills me every time!

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

If I asked you to guess the country I’ve received cards from that has the shortest average travel time, what country would you pick (keep in mind I do receive cards from my home country)? I think most anyone would say in the U.S, you’d receive quickest from the U. S., right? Nope. That average receipt time is 10 days. I got a card from Rwanda (my only one from there) in eight days! Wouldn’t you love to know the story behind that trip? My only other cards (officials) from Africa have come from South Africa, they average 36 days. How did that Rwanda card get here in 8 days? That’s the shortest trip from anywhere I’ve received cards from!

Is there anything else that you are passionate about?

I am passionate about dogs. Of all of the creatures I have interacted with, they are my favorite.

I am passionate about science and the accumulation of knowledge. That is another keystone of the way forward. I am always delighted to gain an understanding of how things work!

I am passionate about the Constitution of the United States of America. It is an imperfect document, to be sure, but I believe it provides a template for the best way forward for humans as a race. Democracy is a messy business, and it is hard and requires dedication. Finding a balance between individual freedom and what is best for the group writ large is always a compromise. We have to continually work at it. I have to say as well that we (Americans) are not always very good at it.

I am passionate about communication. I am fascinated by the ways we go about it and it is utterly astounding to me that we are able to effectively communicate at all. We each experience the universe differently, our senses themselves often differ in capability, and yet we still are able to somehow bridge that gap and share ideas. That is nothing short of amazing. In that vein, I would offer that I am passionate about poetry.

Beethoven. That music speaks to me in my bones.

What excites me? What am I most passionate about?

Margo. My partner, my lover, my friend. Above all Margo.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies or collections?

My wife likes to say that I collect hobbies! In no particular order:

  • I am a birdwatcher, so in a sense you could say I collect birds, or at least observations of them.
  • As a retired sailor, I love to visit beaches and lighthouses, so I collect those images and experiences.
  • I am gradually building a Lego city in my basement; the patterns of pieces and construction techniques intrigue me.
  • I collect rocks and tumble them. There is both a tactile and science/knowledge component to that.
  • I play chess, and have a small collection of chess sets.
  • I have a collection of submarine first day covers, as well as other ship first day covers, mostly sailing ships.
  • I have a small collection of fountain pens.

If I had to summarize the nature of my collections/hobbies/interests, I’d have to say that I collect knowledge and experiences, and that I have a fascination with patterns, in many dimensions and modalities.


Disclosing one’s birthday isn’t a requirement in Postcrossing, but it does allow us to compile statistical data, send you an email on your special day, and occasionally, spot some cool postcrossers… like Corrie (aka Corry1919) from the Netherlands!

As you can probably guess from her username, Corrie was born in 1919, and is now 96 years old, making her one of the oldest postcrossers on the website. Her life spans several major events in the history of the world, and so much has changed in the meantime that we were curious to hear about her experiences — especially in relation with mail. So we talked with her about it with the help of her two nieces Marry and Marian, who introduced her to Postcrossing “to make her world a little bit larger again. When you are that old, friends and family pass away and only loneliness remains. We thought that postcards from all over the world would bring her back the world.”

Corrie Loos

From them, we learnt that Corrie Loos was born on May 25th, 1919 in Wognum, a small village in West-Friesland. She’s the fifth child in a family of eight siblings and used to work as a housekeeper and later in a butcher shop until she retired at the age of 65.

Because of her beautiful handwriting, she was recommended in the thirties to apply for a position at the Land Registry. She did, but was rejected for health reasons… though you’d never guess it looking at her now 96 and still in good health! :) To know more about her relationship with mail and Postcrossing, we asked her a few questions.

Corrie, what is your first memory of writing letters and postcards?

When I was young I sometimes got a postcard for my birthday. Later, when I was on holidays I would always send postcards to my family and friends. I have also corresponded for many years with a Hungarian girl who had moved from Hungary to the Netherlands. She has lived with my family for many years and in the sixties, she moved back to Budapest. From then on, we regularly sent postcards to one another to keep in touch. Internet was not available in those years of course.

How did you hear for the first time about Postcrossing?

My niece Marry was already a postcrosser and she thought it was a lovely idea to create also an account for me. She made Marian, another niece of mine, also an enthusiast and then ‘suddenly’ I got postcards from all over the world! Now that I am old and my legs are painful, I don’t go out much anymore. But with Postcrossing the world comes to me at my home! It is always a great joy when I find new postcards in my mailbox. My favorite card I got from Aats and Nica (aka aatsnica) from Estonia. There is an old barn on it with some sheep and chickens, very beautiful!

Postcard from Estonia
How does Postcrossing work for you? What can you do yourself and on what parts do you need help?

My nieces Marry and Marian actually do most of the work. They write and translate the cards and put the pictures on my profile. Every week my niece Marian visits me. She then brings her laptop and a stack of new, unwritten postcards with her. First she translates for me the cards I received that week and then we read about the details of the new Postcrossers we are going to write and look for suitable cards. So my nieces keep me very much involved with Postcrossing, which is, I think, a modern version of an old-fashioned way to connect people with one another from faraway places.

What do other people think about your hobby?

They love it! I live in a retirement home and sometimes my neighbours visit me of course. I think they are a bit jealous. They always ask how it is possible that I get so many beautiful cards. The nursing staff speak some English and translate the text when I receive a new postcard. They are also always very curious if I have got new cards again.

How has mail changed during your lifetime? Is there anything that was particularly different before, compared to now?

Yes it is! Previously we wrote and received many letters, nowadays almost everything goes through the e-mail. Even the bills you get are digital. Therefore, the postal traffic is becoming increasingly expensive. I’ve got a card from my father in 1937 with a stamp on it of 1.5 cents. Nowadays you have to pay 73 euro cents for a stamp; you could send a hundred postcards for that, back then! Can you imagine that! And if you would send a card with a short or incomplete address, it would still come to the right house. During the war my younger brother was sent to Germany to work there. When for the first time we got a letter from him, it went like wildfire through the village. Everyone wanted to read it, the world was so much smaller.

Corrie's father postcard

Postcard sent by Corrie’s father from Bergen to Wognum in 1937.

Thank you Corrie, Marry and Marian for this wonderful interview!

PS – Thank you everyone who sent Corrie a postcard for her birthday — she got more than 900 of them! Head over to our Facebook page for some photos, plus a message from Corrie and her nieces. :)