Christmas in Wartime – Harvey, Illinois (1917)

I have a large collection of postcards and greeting cards sent to Mary Reeser; her album of saved greetings was sold by a dealer in old paper some time ago.

In 1917, Miss Reeser was living in Harvey, a city of Cook County in northeastern Illinois.

(The city of Harvey was founded by a friend of the evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, and the city was “dry” for most of its history.)

A few days after Christmas, Mary received a postcard from Chicago.

The face of the postcard bears a very simple drawing of a snow-covered cottage amid tall evergreen trees.

Below the drawing, in decorative script, is written: “Merry Christmas  A Happy New Year”.

The style reflects the trend toward sparse, uncluttered design that occurred when postcard printing shifted to the United States during the Great War.

(Part of the new aesthetic was driven by technology – most American printers were less skilled and had inferior inks and presses than their European counterparts.)

Because the postcard had been pasted into an album, the name of the sender is obliterated.

(The initial letter could be an “S” as in Sara or an “I” as in Irene.)

The postmark is peculiar to the war years:

The slogan “Food will win the war” is proclaimed as an incentive to avoid waste.

One hopes that Mary and her unknown correspondent enjoyed the year-end holidays of 1917.


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