Today, we bring you one of Sylvia Henricks’ “Remembrances.” You can read more of Sylvia’s columns weekly in The Franklin Township Informer, or in her book From The Ash Grove (available directly from the FTHS, or via the web site).
“Everyone ought to have a hobby, and it ought to be something he can share,” says Joe Seiter, a postcard collector and new member of the Franklin Township Historical Society. Joe has collected Indiana postcards for 35 years, and still finds cards to add to his favorite subjects, interurban, small town street scenes, and Santa Claus cards.
“I think we are all collectors by nature,” he says. Born and raised on Indianapolis east side, Joe remembers as a boy collecting balls of string to sell to a dealer who came through the neighborhood. Then he and a friend picked up discarded cigarette packages and took out the tinfoil, squeezing it into a ball. That, too, found a market as did match book covers, used stamps, and all kinds of Christmas memorabilia.
“And then,” he continues, “sometime in my twenties, I saw an ad for 100 postcards for $1.00. I asked for as many Indianapolis cards as possible, getting about 40 such cards in the package.” During Army service in the Korean War, marriage and a 35 year career at Western Electric, Joe’s love of Indiana postcards has grown and remains his favorite activity.
His cards are carefully arranged in albums. A special album holds his 350-plus interurban cards, showing the big electric “tractions” stopping at intersections for passengers, rolling through the countryside, crossing bridges, in city traffic with horse drawn wagons and automobiles, and at stations. Some cards show groups ready for an outing posing in front of cars. Other cards show the buildings which produced the electricity that powered the interurbans. Several show the Interurban Terminal on Market Street in downtown Indianapolis, with its nine tracks, the largest such station in the country. (Only Ohio had more miles of track than Indiana.)
Joe values all postcards for their historic and sentimental value. “Sometimes a postcard is the only proof that a house or building really stood somewhere,” he says. The monetary value of individual postcards depends on its rarity, and its condition. “Most valuable,” he says, “are the ‘real photos,’ actual black and white photographs printed on postcard stock. ‘Views’ are often colored and are printed by a different process, often with a white border.”
Joe, who lives in Perry Township, is a charter member of the Indianapolis Postcard Club, organized in 1975, and has served as president for some 20 years. He also has 17 postcards of Acton, of which he has given us copies. He enjoyed looking at our Society’s postcard collection, commenting, “I’m always intrigued to see a “new” card I haven’t seen before.”