Greetings From the Past!

by Lynn R. Parks  |  Photograph courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives
From the June 2014 issue

postcardIn his lifetime, Delaware native George Caley collected more than 6,500 postcards, all depicting scenes from Delmarva and the state’s northern reaches. His widow, Irene, donated the collection to the Delaware Public Archives in Dover, where it can be viewed. (It is also accessible at archives.delaware.gov.)

The postcards date from the early 20th century through the mid-1970s. Of particular interest to those who love coastal Sussex are about 1,500 that show area beach scenes.

“The picture on each card documents a moment in time in Delaware history,” says archives Director and State Archivist Stephen Marz. Several capture images of a largely undeveloped Fenwick Island, with cottages here and there along the ocean shore. Another, from the late 1950s, shows Wilson’s Pier on Rehoboth Bay in Dewey Beach. Gathered around a small white building are about a half-dozen people, one of whom is crouched by the side of the building, smoking a cigarette.

Adding to the collection’s historical and cultural value is the fact that many of the cards were mailed. One, sent on Aug. 13, 1906, and bearing a 1-cent stamp (applied upside down and crooked, by the way), features a black-and-white photograph of the moonlit ocean in Rehoboth Beach. The sender, identified only by the initials “A.R.M.,” wrote to Richard Betts, Bowers Beach: “In the evening by the moonlight I could sit all night and listen, to the voices across the creek.”

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