Happy May Day! May 1st dates to early Celtic tradition as one of the four days that falls midway, more or less, between the Solstice days. At one time May Day was a day to celebrate workers and a push for an 8-hour workday, but that holiday was replaced by Labor Day. Today we think of May Day as a day to dance around Maypoles and give May Baskets of fresh flowers and perhaps a home-baked sweet treat to someone special. I wonder if anyone still does those things?
Have you ever purchased something at a store with the intention of putting that thing away, keeping it in true “new” condition for later generations? What if you did that for a collection of items? A few months back I received a call at the Museum from Carol Odell. She had a collection of Easton postcards once owned by her ancestor A. Frank Pratt. The postcards were Easton places, so of course, I was very pleased to accept them for our collection. People collect postcards for either the subject matter featured, or a sentimental note on the back, or even for specific postmarks such as an RPO (rail post office, mailed via a railroad post office) or a hard-to-find postmark such as Eastondale. I have been collecting postcards of Easton since I was about 18 years old. As you might guess, many of these cards have been mailed, read and re-read, and show a lot of wear and tear. Even their age (most of them date to between 1900 and 1930) cause them to deteriorate.
A. Frank Pratt (1847-1931) married Hypathia (1848-1927), the daughter of widowed Mary Franklin, and the couple lived in one half of a duplex at 9 Oakland Avenue from the 1880’s until his death. Mrs. Franklin owned one half of the duplex, and the Pratt’s owned the other half. A. Frank was a grocery clerk in Easton although it is not known which grocery he may have worked at. Some of his family worked at the Ames Shovel Company, so it is possible he may have worked at the Ames Company Store. There were several other stores on Main Street as well that may have provided employment. One of them was O’Connor’s News Store. From the beginning of the 20th Century, O’Connor’s published several series of Easton postcards, which during those years, was quite the fad for those who had pen pals. Demand for images to send of your hometown drove the postcard market. A. Frank began purchasing postcards as they came out (the earliest in the collection date to before 1907) until he died, and set these cards in a very safe place. Thanks to the care provided by him, and subsequent generations, the 59 cards he purchased came to us in pristine condition! They look just as nice as the day they were purchased, crisp images, no bent corners, creases, or smudges. These are the best preserved postcards I have seen.
I chose six of those postcards for you to view today. They are all from the same series, probably done in the late 1920’s, and feature real photos of Easton on each card. Real photo postcards are exactly that – faithful prints from the original photographs, not touched up or altered. They were printed in Taunton by the H. A. Dickerman & Son Company. All of them are titled on the front so you can easily see what is being featured.
Enjoy these wonderful images, the nice May weather, and of course, Happy May Day!
Curator: Frank Meninno