Bess Will Come in Her Racing Auto – Newville, PA (1909)

This comic postcard, depicting a tramp “driving” a dilapidated toy auto, was mailed to Mrs. Frank Oiler in August of 1909.

Mrs. Oiler lived in Newville, a borough in south-central Pennsylvania, about 11 miles west of Carlisle.

The postcard was sent by Bess, who shared a post office address of Newville and who lived within a horse ride of Mrs. Oiler.

On the reverse, Bess writes that she “can’t get the horse for Tuesday”, but hopes to be able to do so on Wednesday.

It seems that the two neighbors are planning a visit.

Bess addresses Mrs. Oiler as “Laura”, and it is not hard to find more about her.

Laura Brandt (1866-1939) married Frank Oiler (1869-1943) and the couple had three children.

The youngest child died in 2007, which is when the postcards may have passed into the hands of antique dealers.

Frank Oiler was a school-teacher and a member of the Odd Fellows; the Oiler family were members of Hope Evangelical Church.

One hopes that Laura, age 43 when she received the postcard, remained friends with Bess for many years.

(In 1909, automobile ownership was relatively rare -it is remarkable how autos were firmly established in the popular imagination and in popular culture, seemingly “overnight”.)


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