A Pair of Squirrels for Ralph – Ottumwa, Iowa (1914)

This charming postcard was exchanged between two boys, each named “Ralph”.

I believe that both correspondents are boys as the sender notes, “I go to school now”.

Ralph Firkins lived in Ottumwa, a city on the Des Moines River in southeast Iowa.


In April of 1914, Ralph Firkins received a birthday postcard from Ralph Olmsted who lived elsewhere in Iowa.

The face of the postcard bears a drawing of a bucolic scene, framed by ivy and a four-leaf clover.

An inscription reads, “Many Happy Returns of the Day”.

On the reverse, we find an absorbing story of Ralph Olmsted’s boyhood on a farm.

The biggest news is that, “if we don’t catch any squirrels, Papa is going to buy me a pair”.

I don’t know how commonly boys domesticated squirrels as pets, or raised them as a commodity.

Internet sources note that squirrels were often domesticated in the 19th century.


Ralph was surrounded by many other creatures; he recounts that “we have 39 little lambs and 80 little pigs”.

In addition, “there are two calves”.

Of the sheep, Ralph has “five sheep of my own”.

One regrets that we have no further correspondence about Ralph’s adventures with squirrels or livestock.

And, one would like to know about the adventures of Ralph Firkins who was another year older.

One hopes that the two Ralphs remained friends and correspondents for many years.


Search By:


More Postcards