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Racist Postcards and Red-Headed Girls Who Cuss

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I used to collect antique postcards when I was in college, or “vintage” for you excessively modernist cats. Racist postcards were especially treasured finds. I guess I thought I was being post-ironic and hip or something, because I was a man of the learned present, not some regressive ape from the 40s, or 20s, or whenever it was this buried loot came up from whence.

Funny how things come back to you. I was going through the pictures I’ve been scanning for my mom, and these postcards turn up. I’d really forgotten completely about them, until my mom reminded me that I used to be very excited about this hobby.

Giggling-at-bigots yucks aside, the thing I never did when I first found these, apparently, was stop and read the back sides of them. Because they are full of messages from the Facebook that your grandpa knew about. Telling you who is bored and who had the gout and who had duck and green beans for supper. Also there is a check for $2.50 in the mail from your Uncle Grover and it is intended for you to buy some Xmas presents for your cousins. Always Xmas because space on postcards is small and writing is large.

The stories they tell are shrunken monologues, one-act plays divorced from context without any apparent resolution. You are dropped like a heavy sack into the middle of a room full of people you have never met.

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