Tuesday, August 8, 2023

 A Small Fragment of a Big Event 


At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, African American track star Jesse Owens won four gold medals in track. His forth medal came when his relay team set a new world record that stood for 20 years. 




Jesse Owens was the son of Alabama sharecroppers who emerged as a major track talent in high school in Ohio and later at Ohio State University. In 1936, 17 African American athletes traveled as part of 311 Americans  representing the United States in the Olympics in Berlin Germany. Chancellor (and dictator) of Germany, Adolf Hitler wanted to use the games to prove his theories of Aryan racial superiority. He congratulated many of the German athletes but left the stadium after three African Americans swept the high jump events. While Hitler avoided greeting and congratulating the Black Americans, he continued to greet German winners in private.

 

The 1936 games were the first to be televised and the Black American athletes struck an important propaganda blow against Nazi Germany and achieved a significant triumph for the objectives of racial equality and human rights. 

 

I found this original 1936 postcard at the Wichita, Kansas Postcard Club annual show about ten years ago. It has a black and white photograph of Jesse Owens crossing the finish line in the 100 meters sprint. The card was cancelled at Berlin Olympic Stadium, August 3, 1936. It appears that someone began to address the card but must have changed their mind and kept the card as a souvenir. It bears numerous creases and small tears that give evidence to the hands it has traveled through and the hearts and minds it may have touched.

 

I consider it a small, but true piece of history and I hope it continues its journey with its positive message of human rights and human strength. 


Monday, August 7, 2023

A Short Entry About Postcards and Postcard Shows 


For those of you who have not yet been initiated into the world of antique postcards, these small, century-old objects offer a vast world of graphics, fine art, history, commerce, social history, and much more. For example, here is an image of an amazingly beautiful postcard found at the Wichita Postcard Club Show a few years ago. This card was produced by the Wiener Werkst├Ątte Company in Vienna for the Emperor's Jubilee in 1908.

 

Wiener Werkst├Ątte Company (1903-1932) was created with the goal of bringing good design and craft into all areas of life within the fields of ceramics, fashion, silver, furniture, and the graphic arts. The company was promoted as a declaration of modernity over the old order. The artist of this illustration was Remigius Geyling, a designer and artist who was later a professor of the School of Applied Arts in Vienna.

 

Postcard shows like the Wichita Postcard Club Show, Oct. 21-22, Wichita, Kansas attract collectors, dealers, historians, writers, artists and art lovers, designers, the intellectually curious, and treasure hunters to the rewarding world of antique postcards. So, here's one treasure found at Wichita a few years ago, and tomorrow I will post something from the realm of sports, social and political history. The subjects are endless. See you in Wichita!


 





Tuesday, October 4, 2022

 


Cast Up by the Sea

The Atlantic City Origin of Sand Sculpture,
and the Mystery of Philip McCord

In the age before highways and airports could whisk people hundreds of miles in a few hours, they came by rail to places like Atlantic City. At a time when much of the New Jersey Shore were still fishing villages, Atlantic City was a thriving destination with worldly restaurants, grand hotels, a bustling Boardwalk, and one of the first “beach cultures” in the United States. And a huge part of that beach culture were the artists who sculpted in the sand just off the Boardwalk.           –– Atlantic City Alliance, 2014  (1)

 


 Human beings must have formed wet sand into imaginative shapes from the time we first left footprints on a sandy beach; for ages, children and adults have modeled walls, castles, dams, and coarse creatures that existed only until the next high tide. There are ancient historical references to sand sculpture in ancient Egypt and India, but the more recent innovation of sand sculpture as an occupation or formal competition is said to have begun just before the turn of the twentieth century on the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey. 

Legend has it that in 1897 a mysterious character named Philip McCord, who claimed to be from Philadelphia, (remember this city, it will appear in this story again) carved a pile of wet sand below the Atlantic City boardwalk into the life-sized figures of a woman and child seemingly washed up onto the shore after being drowned at sea. That maudlin seaside tableau was repeated in beach sand for decades and became known as “Cast Up by the Sea.” There are no known photographs of McCord or that first 1897 sculpture, but it must have looked something like the photo below, a circa 1905 image of James Taylor, a subsequent Atlantic City sand artist. Taylor would soon become very well known for his own depiction of “Cast Up by the Sea,” as well as many other subjects––but questions linger: Did Taylor take up the art and replicate “Cast Up” after observing Philip McCord’s work? Did the two men know each other? Why have no other accounts of McCord surfaced?

 

“Cast Up by the Sea,” James Taylor, Atlantic City, circa 1905.


By the turn of the twentieth century, luxurious hotels, fine restaurants, alluring shops, and connecting railroad lines drew visitors from all over the world to the resort destination of Atlantic City. The prevailing lore is that Philip McCord took note of the crowds on the Boardwalk and offered them his sand sculpture performance in hopes of cash tips for his efforts. 


In 1992, Holly Metz wrote a detailed and well-researched article titled “Selling Sand & Sea: Sand Sculptors & the Development of the Atlantic City Resort, 1897 – 1944,” which appeared in the Summer Issue of The Clarion (now titled Folk Art) published by the American Folk Art Museum in New York.(2) In the article Metz attributed the identification of Philip McCord as the original 1897 sculptor to a 1942 article in the Atlantic City Press by reporter Frank Butler. Metz noted however that “no 1897 reference to McCord could be found in available issues of the Press as most were destroyed in a fire.”

 

An article in the July 28, 1899 issue of the Asbury Park Journal described the work of a “sand modeler” named “Professor Taylor” who worked in an open-air beach studio and modeled several sand pictures and a panel with a cross and a crown dedicated to the Women’s Catholic Benevolent Association. This reference is undoubtedly to James J. Taylor whose sand sculpture work in Atlantic City is well documented from the years 1904 to 1907. It would appear that both McCord and Taylor were producing their sand sculpture at about the same time. Or, is it possible that the identification of that 1897 sand sculptor as Philip McCord was a mistake and that he was actually James Taylor? Let’s look at a bit of Atlantic City history and the art of sand sculpture before we get back to the mystery of Philip McCord.

Let’s step back in time a bit––before the throngs of city visitors arrived to play in the surf and sand of the Atlantic City resort––and before these artists-in-sand began to entertain the crowds. For centuries, this stretch of the Atlantic coast had been a bountiful home to Native Peoples; its location, the barrier island of Abescon, had provided rich as well as marsh lands and access to both the Atlantic Ocean and fresh inland water. The climate was mild, and there was more than abundant fish, game, and plant life. 


High Tide at Atlantic City, William Richards, 1873

The ancestors of the Eastern Algonquian Confederacy, who called themselves “Lenni Lanape” (original people) and “Unalachtigo” (people who live near the ocean), lived on this coast for thousands of years before the Europeans appeared. In the 1600s, Dutch and English settlers began arriving, and by 1776, there was a bustling seaport at Abescon Creek and European settlers began pushing the Native Americans out of their way. By the last decades of the 18th century, most of the Native Americans had been driven out or replaced, and by 1860, their remaining population had endured forced migration to reservations in Oklahoma. 

 

The area’s natural beauty and proximity to Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Washington were recognized by developers as prime real estate for a resort. The first commercial hotels in Atlantic City were built in the 1850s, and rail service from major population centers began in 1854. By the turn of the century, there was an entirely different panorama on the Atlantic shore. 


Atlantic City Boardwalk, circa 1900.                                                                                  Atlantic City Beach, 1904

As the sand-sculpture story goes, soon after completing that 1897 work, known as “Cast Up by the Sea,” Philip McCord was joined by other artists who shaped the beach sand into figures and scenes representing current interests and events in return for coins tossed from onlookers on the Boardwalk above. Sand sculpture was an immediate hit with visitors to Atlantic City, and artists created three-dimensional portrayals of political figures, Civil War generals, exotic animals, women, children, social and religious motifs, and popular works of art. Even the labor movement and women’s rights campaigns were represented in sand.



"The work of one of a Dozen Sand Artists on the Beach" Atlantic City postcard, circa 1908.


Atlantic City quickly boomed as a summer resort and a winter health spa, and crowds thronged to the beaches and entertainment offered along the Boardwalk. Amusement piers like Steeplechase Pier and the Steel Pier offered musicians, vaudeville shows, dance clubs, thrill rides, concessions, and diversions of all sorts, including the famous Steel Pier Diving Horse. 

 

Postcard views Atlantic City, (L) 1910, and (R) 1934.

Enterprising performers and artists of all varieties responded to the increasing crowds by setting up shop along the Boardwalk, and the work of sand sculptors was a large part of the showConventioneers, vacationers, and day-tripping families, “rail birds,” as they were called, would hang on the Boardwalk railings to watch the amazing forms take shape. “Passing the hat” and coins tossed onto the artists’ cloth banners supported the resourceful sand artists, and hundreds of colorful tourist postcards depicted the artists and their work and helped draw visitors to Atlantic City into the 1920s and 30s. 

Postcard views, Sand sculptors, circa 1908. 

 
Postcard views, Sand sculptors, circa 1908.


Unfortunately, this burgeoning resort was officially segregated in 1900. People of color were not welcome on the Atlantic City beaches or Boardwalk except as workers behind the scenes, entertainers, or handlers of the rolling boardwalk chairs. For a few years in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Black tourists were allowed on the beach and Boardwalk only one day of the year, just after Labor Day, when the customary tourist season had ended. An article in The Atlantic City Press, September 6, 1906, records that the operators of the theaters and other amusements welcomed people of color for that one-day outing. During the Jim Crow era, Black tourists were directed to the unofficial Black beach along Missouri Avenue on the north side of town. This segregated arrangement did not begin to change until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.


Postcards from Atlantic City's early days not only revealed the existence of racial discrimination and segregation, but they also employed it to appeal to white visitors in ways that were often less than subtle. The card below, published by Hugh C. Leighton Company of Portland, Maine, depicts a number of horseback riders on a postcard that was mailed in 1908. The image reveals three Black riders on white horses and three white riders on dark horses; and the printed description reads, “Three chocolate drops on whites; three whites on chocolate drops.” The man on the right seems to be in charge and gives the impression that the tableau was carefully arranged as an attempt at humor.


"Black on white, White on black," Postcard humor, Atlantic City, circa 1908.


Detail of back of Black/White riders postcard.


Historical records, however, do identify at least one early twentieth-century sand artist as African-American, Owen Golden, who was well accepted by both spectators and his fellow artists. Mr. Golden was reported to have only one arm, but despite this handicap, he produced quality work that was pleasing to his audience.


One-armed, sculptor circa 1910. Possibly Owen Golden, an African-American.


Postcard published in 1907 by Hubin’s Big Post Card Store,

welcoming the conventions of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

(Fellow in derby hat is sculptor James Taylor.)


As the number of sand artists increased, some boardwalk businesses began to complain that they were losing customers, and the city struggled with rowdy crowds, pickpockets, objections to subject matter that included nudes, and the growing number of less-skilled artists who produced poor-quality work. Eventually, the city was forced to respond by regulating the sand artists with licenses, quality standards, and design approval. 

The sand-sculpture art form struggled into the 1930s despite increased competition from other attractions like “Human Roulette” and “Human Niagara” carnival rides, pageants, theater performances, and concerts. The final blow (pun intended) came in 1944 when the Great Atlantic hurricane struck Atlantic City, ravaging the Boardwalk, flooding many of the hotels, and destroying the amusement piers along the beach. Lost too were the sand sculptures and the stands the artists had built around them. The city leaders, finally seeing an excuse to rid themselves of what had become an increasing nuisance, removed the remaining sculpture structures. 

Competitive sand sculpture had planted its feet firmly in the sand under the Atlantic City boardwalk and spread from there to beaches around the world, but after the hurricane, competitive sand sculpture was finished in Atlantic City for the next half-century.

Sand sculpture as an art form with occasional competitions continued to be part of beach cultures with a strong revival of the art in California in the 1970s and other contests scattered on the beaches of the world. In Texas, Walter McDonald and Lucinda Wierenga started Sandcastle Days in 1988 on South Padre Island, and the annual event continues today.(3) In 1997, the first annual SandFest(4) was organized in Port Aransas, Texas. That same year, one hundred years after Philip McCord first sculpted “Cast Up By the Sea,” BeachFest ’97 took place in Atlantic City, with a sponsored “Sandtennial” sculpting contest of more than twenty sculptors working with tons of sand for the crowd.

In 2013, John Gowdy, a New Jersey-based “international” sand artist, and others arranged for the World Championship of Sand Sculpture to return to Atlantic City! With the help of AC Alliance, The World Championship of Sand Sculpting Event began in Atlantic City on June 13, 2013.


2013 World Championship of Sand Sculpting, Atlantic City.




Okay, back to the Mystery of Philip McCord and James Taylor:


Below is a postcard mailed in 1910 with a later version of “Cast Up by the Sea” by James Taylor. There are many contemporary accounts of Philip McCord’s 1897 sculpture in Atlantic City, and sand sculptors commonly regard McCord as the “godfather” of their art, but we find only scant historical records of the event and no photographs of McCord. 


1910 Postcard, Monterrey, California. 

Message: This is another view of the kind of work I showed you on the last postcard. 

And to think this could be done with nothing but the sand as found along the beach.


We do know that James Taylor was working in Atlantic City as a sand sculptor in 1899, and that he also worked as a hotel waiter in 1904, according to the city directory. His work as a sand sculptor in Atlantic City and the beaches of California was well recorded on postcards and newspaper articles. 

 

During this era, the motif of “Cast Up by the Sea” would have resonated with the public, as shipwrecks were not uncommon at the time, and similar subjects were described in art and literature. The scene is possibly based on works like this 1873 wood engraving by Winslow Homer, also titled, “Cast Up by the Sea.” 


Postcard of 1873 wood engraving, “Cast Up by the Sea,” Winslow Homer.


By 1908, sculptor James Taylor had left Atlantic City for the West Coast, where he worked the beaches of California for a few years, and he complimented the moldable nature of the sand when compared to that of the Atlantic coast. The woman clutching a babe to her breast was usually the centerpiece of his work, and her dress, full of folds and undulations, took Taylor about two hours to complete. He knew how to work the crowd, waiting until a decent number of onlookers had gathered before he began a piece. He never mourned the fleeting nature of his chosen art form and their loss to the incoming tide, saying, “The material is still there and I can do the work again.”


James Taylor working in front of the Steel Pier, circa 1906.


Postcard titled, “Afternoon Tea.”  James Taylor 1906.

Note the two sticks at the waterline which may have helped Taylor keep track of the incoming tide.


1909 postcard, James Taylor, Cliff House, San Francisco.


James J. Taylor  was born in 1860. He died at Seaside Hospital, Long Beach, in 1918. He had been found in a shack on Alamitos Bay, ill and destitute. Taylor had often admonished his audience, “Don’t forget the worker,” as a way of asking for donations or tips, as well as recognition for the class of “workers,” and for himself. His work and his name remain today on thousands of old postcards and photographs. Time, like the incoming tide, washes the sand clean again.



But wait, what about Philip McCord?


 

After the apparent sand sculpture of “Cast Up By the Sea,” in 1897, Philip McCord seemed to disappear from the scene…

 

However, a few sources mention a shadowy “sand artist” who wandered the Midwest for 20 years or more, drifting like a hobo but occasionally stopping to sculpt the figures of “Cast Up by the Sea” in sand or riverbank mud. 

 

An article in the April 16, 1915 issue of the Moberly Weekly Monitor, Moberly, Missouri, titled “Sculptor Astonishes Citizens with Life-Size Model of Mother and Babe,” reported that a man had arrived in town who gave his name only as “Sand Artist” as he worked in a pile of wet sand and fashioned the classic subject. The newspaper reported that he worked at the end of North Williams Street, and molded a pile of sand into a work he called “Washed Up By the Sea.” The artist stated that he worked in ashes or mud when no sand was available. 

 

Was this visitor to Moberly Philip McCord? In a book by Don Eggspuehler, Teachings from Pop, AuthorHouse Press, 2014, the author relates a story about a mysterious sculptor who wandered Kansas and Iowa, occasionally carving the figures of a mother and babe into riverbank sand. The artist told onlookers that the figures represented his wife and child who drowned in the Pueblo, Colorado floods of 1922; he went on to say that he had studied art at the PhiladelphiaAcademy of Fine Arts. Eggspuehler’s account mixes the stories of Philip McCord and that of James Taylor, but he goes on to speculate about Philip McCord “making a meager living touring the country coast-to-coast carving the same scene over and over.”

 

A current online story by the Argus Newspaper Museum in Table Rock, Nebraska, reports a recent finding of a 1921 photograph and newspaper article in the museum’s archives titled “Cast Up by the Sea.”(5) Museum tour guide Sharla Sitzman reported finding the photograph below and an April 22, 1921, Argus Newspaper article which gave the artist’s name as J. B. McCord. He said he was from Philadelphia and had worked with some of the greatest artists in the country. McCord worked the sandy soil beside a creek using only his hands and a butcher knife. Beside him on the ground lay a sign that said, “Throw a penny to the artist.” It was estimated that he collected perhaps $15... and moved on...


Photograph of creek-side sculpture by Mr. McCord 

Argus, Table Rock, Nebraska, 1921


We know that James Taylor died in 1918, and the accounts of Philip McCord seem to be only sparsely scattered throughout the first few decades of the twentieth century, but the two men seem to be distinctly separate individuals. No matter who first sculpted “Cast Up in by the Sea,” it is a melancholy yet engaging story that certainly left its mark in the sand.



The sands of time are quicksands ... so much can sink into them without a trace.

––Margaret Atwood





Note: Many thanks to my friend Mike Foster and his twin brother, Pat Foster, both sand sculptors and members in good standing of Sons of the Beach, for their support in shaping this small mound of gritty history.

 

If any of you readers can add sourced details about the lives of Philip McCord or James J. Taylor, please get in touch.



Footnotes:

(1)  Atlantic City Alliance, 2014 online presentation about sand sculpture competition in Atlantic City:  http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7074852-atlantic-city-do-ac-sand-sculpture-world-cup/links/7074852-sand-world-cup-backgrounder-bios-2014-final-formatted.pdf

(2)  Metz, Holly, “Selling Sand & Sea,” Clarion (Folk Art), American Folk Art Museum, New York, Summer 1992. https://www.hollymetz.net/files/essays_and_articles/Sand-Art.pdf

(3). Master Sand sculptors Walter McDonald (aka Amazin’ Walter) and Lucinda Wierenga (aka Sandy Feet) 
South Padre Island, Texas. https://www.sandcastledays.com 
The History of Sand Sculpture, Lucinda "Sandy Feet" Wierenga.
https://www.sandcastlecentral.com/resources/history.html
https://www.fmbsandsculpting.com/speaker/amazin-walter-mcdonald/

(4)  texassandfest.org

(5)  https://www.tablerockhistoricalsociety.com/cast-up-by-the-sea-art-in-table-rock.html


Ken Wilson


Monday, October 3, 2022


Where are you Belle?

A Western Romance in Five Postcards 



Today’s offering: A short, unfinished story––to be read between the lines–– illustrated with five postcard views of the American West which were mailed to Miss Belle Riley, Allensville, Kentucky in 1907.


       April 8, 1907:

 

M 339    Dinner in the cow camp. The cow “punchers” at home.

Postcard photographer and publisher, Charles E. Morris, Chinook, Montana. Printed in Germany.


It takes quite a few to look after 2,500 head of cattle — With love    Jim


       March 21, 1907:

M 304   Branding a “Maverick” on the prairie.

Postcard photographer and publisher, Charles E. Morris, Chinook, Montana. Printed in Germany.


Mott, N.D., Mch 21, 1907

These scenes are passing very fast here – Jim


        March 22, 1907:

M 229    A beef Herd watering at a Lake.

Postcard photographer and publisher, Charles E. Morris, Chinook, Montana. Printed in Germany.

Mch 22, 1907, Mott, N.D.

Dear Belle – Have been delayed on account of a wash out on RR. 

Will leave for S.D. tonight. With love    Jim


      March 24, 1907:


Round up Wagon and Riders, Dickinson, N. D.

Published by the Rotograph Co., N.Y., Printed in Germany.


This scene is near me Belle, How long before you will see this?

Mch 24, 1907     With Love   Jim



             June 26, 1907:

 

K 778   Cow Girl on a “Broncho.”

Photo copyrighted 1906 by Morris & Kirby, Chinook, Mont. Printed in Germany.


Mott N.D., June 26, 1907

Dear Belle:– Two years hence.  “You”    Love   Jim


Sadly, we have no further evidence of Belle and Jim. Did Belle join Jim in the Dakotas? Why was Jim expecting that Belle might join him after a delay of two years? Was he establishing a ranch or a business in order to support Belle? Was he waiting for her to be give her family’s blessing to marry? And the biggest question, of course: Did they fulfill Jim’s hopes and make a life together?

 

I purchased this group of five postcards at a postcard show/sale a few years ago. I am always intrigued by the “back story” of postcards that contain handwritten messages and occasionally one finds several cards mailed to the same recipient. In most cases they were saved for at least a generation or more and later discarded. Many are simply thrown away, but often the more appealing or remarkable ones find their way to the antique resale market where collectors, historians, artists, and others purchase them for their artistic or historic merit. This particular group of cards passed from Jim to Belle, perhaps then on to someone else in Belle’s circle of family or friends, and then to at least one postcard dealer before I purchased them. They will no doubt continue their journey for years to come.

 

My current avocation involves fleshing out the stories behind such old postcards (See Snapshots and Short Notes, U. of N. Texas Press, 2020) and I was hoping to search internet sites such as Ancestry, Newspapers.com, and Find-a-Grave to discover more about this couple and their long-distance romance, but it was not to be. Belle’s relatively common surname, Riley and the small town of Allensville, Kentucky did not lead me to additional details, and Jim gave us did not divulge his last name or other clues.

 

In consolation, there are always other avenues to explore with old postcards. In this case, four of the five cards were printed from photographs taken by Charles E, Morris, a very well known Montana photographer who traveled the west by horseback and wagon documenting a rapidly vanishing way of life. He was friends with artist Charlie Russell, who sometimes painted from Morris’s photograph suggestions.  Morris’s work as a photographer is respected for its quality and the historical value of the subject matter. For more about his work see Images of the West: Charles E. Morris, Big Sky Journal, Winter 2017.                     https://bigskyjournal.com/images-west-charles-e-morris/

 

Note that these postcards were mechanically printed from photographs rather than being actual photographs printed by a photographic process. They were printed in Germany, as were many American postcards prior to  WWI, because Germany had better printing techniques and inks at that time. There are many postcards from this era printed as actual black and white photographs from  original negatives; they are identified in the trade as RPPCs, Real Photo Post Cards. Just after the turn of the century portable cameras and simple developing kits enhanced the world-wide postcard communication and collecting era for both professional and amateur photographers by making it possible to photographically print an image on a postcard back for mailing. A real photo postcard of any of the five postcards in this essay would have been sharper in focus and more desirable, commanding a much higher price on the antique market. In this particular case however, the value lies in the charming, yet mysterious and unfinished romance between Jim and Belle.

 

Belle? Where are you? 

If anyone can add to this story, please get in touch.


 

October 30, 2022 Addendum:


When doing further research about Belle Riley, I found a contribution to Ancestry.com for Belle Riley Ewing, posted by Jeff Rice, her first cousin, four times removed. Belle Riley was his great, great grandfather’s first cousin from Allensville, Kentucky, who later married Robert Gray Ewing and, in some unrecorded family story, left “Jim” alone in North Dakota.  

 

Belle (Isabella) Riley was born in 1886 to Napoleon and Isabella Riley in Kentucky, and although she seems to have had a persistent North Dakota suitor in “Jim” during 1907, Belle remained single until she was 33 years old. 

 

According to Mr. Rice, her family raised horses and mules in Kentucky, and she won several horse-showing competitions as a young woman. She was apparently quite the socialite and among other news articles available on Ancestry.com, a 1907 article in the Russellville, Kentucky News-Democrat describes an elaborately decorated party Miss Riley gave in honor of a visitor from Eddyville, KY.   

 

Belle married Robert Gray Ewing, of Elkton, Kentucky, in November 1918, in Allensville, Kentucky. Mr. Ewing made a living as a traveling salesman for the Zinsmeister Wholesale Grocery in Greenville, Kentucky. In 1937, Mrs. Belle Ewing and friends attended a reunion of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Louisville. Robert died of injuries from an automobile wreck in 1951, but Belle survived the incident with only a broken arm. Belle died in 1960, and she and Robert are buried side-by-side in Allensville.

 

As things stand today, neither Belle’s cousin (X4), Jeff Rice, nor I have been able to identify Belle’s postcard writer, Jim from North Dakota.  Romantically inclined readers may be disappointed that Jim’s efforts to lure Belle out to the Western Plains did not result in a story-book happy ending, but perhaps that is in keeping with the mysterious ways of the heart. 

 

But, as consolation, remember that someone, likely Belle, kept Jim’s five 1907 postcards for many years, and they have survived her death for another significant period of time. Who saved them? Who thought about Belle and Jim over the years? We may never know those answers, but the cards remain, and, in some sense, the romance lives on.

 

 

 

 

The course of true love never did run smooth.

––Shakespeare


Ken Wilson

ken-wilson.com