Dear Lera—How are you these hot days? Electric light man is here and will study by new lights tonight. Everything is in a tumble. Every one is well. Baby has three teeth now. How do you like this card? Miss H. didn’t say a word it was me will tell you later. May go to Dallas tomorrow after a hat. Will write soon. Perle B.
Like the artist’s sketch dashed off to capture a moment, a few words and a picture on a postcard can open a much larger world to the imagination. Mailed in 1911 to Miss Lera Brown at Baylor, this postcard shows a young man envisioning a beautiful woman in his cigarette smoke. Along with her face and hair there is a ring—perhaps an engagement ring—signaling that he imagines his beloved, or a yet-unmet future wife. The couple’s red lips and eyes mirror each other, and the shape and angle of the ring echo the man’s collar. It’s a dreamy picture that creates a fantasy for the viewer, that of the dashing young man who longs for love and marriage.
The note on the back is also full of revealing details conveyed with great economy. The card was mailed in October but it’s still hot in Texas! And “everything is in a tumble” as the new electric lights are installed. How delightful it will be to study tonight by the light of this relatively recent home improvement.
We read about the baby who is growing, and a possible trip to the big city to shop for a new hat. We sense that Perle B. found this postcard interesting or fitting, as she wonders, “How do you like this card?” There is a hint of mystery and a need for discretion regarding a Miss H. (“will tell you later”), and like Lera, we can’t wait to hear all the details.
But by this time, there is no more space for writing, so the postcard ends with the promise we all hope to hear when we are away from home: “Will write soon.” I like to imagine that Perle kept her promise and sent other cards and letters to Baylor that year, knowing, as John Donne did that “more than kisses, letters mingle souls, for thus friends absent speak.”