Member Caroline (aka Luminarium) is a social worker from the USA. A few weeks ago, she brought to our attention that a postcrosser she was helping to send postcards found it funny that she was older than the age settings the website allowed. We were intrigued, as no one had ever complained about this bug before… but then again, we probably don’t have many postcrossers like Helen (aka Honney17) who celebrated her 101st birthday earlier this year! 🎉
We were so happily surprised, we decided to ask them a few questions!
- What are your first memories of writing?
I used to write a lot of letters to my friend I went to school with; We were in the same grade, but I was a year older than her because I got sick. I wrote my friend Virginia McCafferty. Her family was from England, and she lived beyond me. When we got out of school, we’d walk together home. She was my dear friend. Her family raised prize winning black angus cows. After school we’d walk down the hill and through a cow path in the field. We’d get to her fence and she would jump over and we’d walk to our own houses. You could get a postcard for a penny back then. I wrote to her till I got married. Galveston, IN (where Helen was born) had eight houses then. The house I was born in is still there. Our first cousins lived there too. I think I’m the only one left of this generation. My mother’s family was from Ireland. I used to love to write. They always used to call on me because I made up good stories. They wanted me to be on the high school newspaper. I only got one semester of my freshman year. I was 14 and didn’t have a home then, so I went to work in a dry goods store.A framed painting of Helen’s family barn, painted by a friend from a photo.
- How did you hear about Postcrossing?
I heard about Postcrossing in a place I used to live, but didn’t start participating till my helper introduced it to me.
- What do you do and what do you need help with to participate in Postcrossing?
I think up stuff, but I have trouble writing because my hand is clunky, so I need help writing. What you don’t use, you lose! I save the postcards I get for my helper to register them. She gets the addresses for me and I tell her what to write. I sign them all.Helen, Caroline and some postcards they’ve received.
- What are your first memories of getting mail? How has mail changed over the years?
Back in the beginning, a horse and buggy brought it to us in the country; then they got a car, a Ford. A rattling good car. Sometimes if you didn’t live in a city you had to go downtown to get mail because they wouldn’t deliver it. I had a cousin who delivered mail. We had a little mailbox along the dirt road and I mostly remember when the mail carrier had an old jalopy and would bring it to the box. It was a Ford, I think. They were the first cars anyone knew about. “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.” There was a box on the side to help fix a tire and you had to crank them! And, if you didn’t do it right, the crank would go backwards and break your arm. My brother used to push it (our Ford), to get it up and running, and then had to run and jump in.
- What do people think about you participating in PostCrossing?
People that work here notice I get mail; it doesn’t look like anybody here gets much mail. Maybe people have family here that don’t write. My son and daughter visit me. I lost my cousin and my friend so it’s nice to get mail.Helen and her postcards.
- What does Postcrossing mean to you?
It’s interesting because you get personal, and that’s big—to get mail. We all live in our little worlds, and you don’t have many activities to do, and this is a hobby you can be busy with. And the cards come, and people are living all over the world, and it’s interesting to read about their families and work and see the cards they send. I bet they wonder about America the way I wonder about the places they live. It’s almost like taking a trip—you get a picture in your mind. It’s like a little vacation. The postcards are something I look forward to. It really makes me think about places and people differently than I have before. Every postcard is something to look forward to.
- Do you have a Favorite post card?
DE-7117460. It looks like a dog I used to love that my grandson adopted when he was going through a hard time. He got that pup and it helped him out of his depression.
- What kind of post cards would you most like to receive?
Besides birds and dogs, it would be nice to have pictures of your country. Your buildings, and how they are built, and what the people look like.
Thank you so much to Helen and Caroline for this lovely interview!
As Helen mentions in the interview, people in her Senior Assisted Living community don’t get much mail nowadays… so how about we send them some? With the permission of her family and Activities Director Valarie, we’re publishing here the address of the place where she lives, so that if you want, you can send a postcard there and make a senior’s day a little bit brighter. 😊 Send iconic images of your town/country with a fact and greeting from where you live, and then Caroline and Valarie will organize them so that everyone can enjoy them! :)
Shall we fill their mailbox with postcards, and give Helen and her friends the opportunity to travel around the world through them?
This initiative is now finished, but here’s a quick update from Helen’s caretaker Caroline in February 2019:
“There’s nothing like a beautiful piece of mail to brighten a grey day. Helen has LOVED receiving all the mail you’ve sent. She’s hit a rough patch, but being the resilient woman she is she’s pushing through. Your postcards are a constant source of smiles, wonder and support. Helen frequently looks at them and says ”It’s just like a vacation!" or “Ah, Finland…I always wanted to go there.” or looking at a card from Indonesia “Can you believe that? From all that way?!” This rough patch (and rough weather) has stalled out our original bigger plan for sharing with other residents. Don’t worry though, your cards are getting a great deal of attention and will be shared with the wider community. Thank you for spreading your joy. At nearly 102 you’ve sincerely brightened Helen and her caregiver’s days. From Helen, her family and Caroline, her helper – Thank you."