Initially I was baffled by the meaning of this postcard, and to be honest I still haven’t fully wrapped my head around it. The card references the popular evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, who was presumed drowned while swimming at Venice Beach in 1926. But a month later she was found in the Mexican town of Agua Prieta, just across the border from Douglas, Arizona. She claimed to have been kidnapped, drugged, and tied-up in a shack, only to escape and endure a twenty mile trek across the desert. But her story raised more questions than it answered. You can read more about Sister Aimee in an article I found at Today I Found Out, my new favorite website.
This real photo postcard is beat to heck and gone, but the curious subject makes it worth sharing. What we have here is Cinderella’s Doll House, one of the many attractions that once populated Santa Claus, Arizona. Located near Kingman, Arizona on U.S. Route 93, Santa Claus was established in 1937 by real estate agent Nina Talbot. Mrs. Talbot was intent on starting a resort town centered on a Santa theme, smack-dab in the middle of the desert, and she managed to create a popular attraction that included several Christmas related buildings and a U.S. post office.
Talbot ultimately abandoned the idea of building a resort town, selling Santa Claus, Arizona in 1949. The town declined in the ’70s and was put up for sale yet again in 1983, but having received no suitable offer things continued to languish into the ’90s. The last souvenir shop at the once-popular tourist destination closed in 1995. Only a few heavily vandalized structures remain on the site today. You can see a number of recent photos here.
Prior to March 3rd, 1907 postal regulations prohibited written messages on the back of postcards, and that limitation inspired some creative workarounds. This Grand Canyon view was mailed to San Gabriel, California on Oct. 27, 1905, and though the tiny writing is difficult to read I believe I’ve “decoded” the message. It’s an interesting, if brief, chronicle of a trip into the canyon, written at a time when the Grand Canyon had been a tourist destination for only a handful of years:
Bright Angel: At Grand Canyon. Oct. 27th, 1905. Dear ones, You see we are still at the canyon & will be until 3 P.M. then we go down to Williams & leave there at 6:47 P.M. Get home Sunday P.M. We took a walk down the canyon. We started at 9 A.M. & went to the river & it took us 3 1/2 hours. We came back in 5 hours. It was dreadful coming back, & after we got back we learned it was a 14 mile trip & we walked every step. We are somewhat sore this A.M. We will write when we get home. We almost froze when we got here. There was a heavy frost. We are all well & trust you are. Anna.
One of the “Harvey House” hotel/restaurants that were dotted along the Santa Fe railroad, this postcard depicts the Fray Marcos Hotel in Williams, Arizona. The card was postmarked August 9, 1926 and has this message on the back:
Dear Sweetheart –
Am feeling OK. Hope you & son same. Had to lay over here 10 hours account of washout ahead of us – Daddy
A – Boulder Dam
R – San Francisco Peaks
I – Sahuaro Cactus
Z – Queen Creek Gorge
O – Petrified Forest
N – Hopi Snake Dance
A – San Xavier Mission
This trio of Grand Canyon postcards are very early views of the canyon (by postcard standards), all copyright 1902 by Detroit Photographic Co. (later known as Detroit Publishing Co.) The undivided back postcards show, from top to bottom: view from the El Tovar Hotel, view from O’Neill’s Point, and a view from Rowe’s Point.
I don’t include cactus postcards here without a darned good reason, and this one being the “world’s largest”, well, I just had to share it! It was 43 feet tall and 200 years old…and wiped out by a storm before this postcard made it to print. Here, let me include the text from the back:
“Having stood unchallenged for years as the world’s largest cactus – over 200 years old, 43 feet tall, with 52 branches – this fine specimen of Sahuaro was seriously damaged in a recent storm; and now Arizonans are searching for a “new champion.” The publishers will pay $5.00 for photograph and description of a Giant Cactus, accessibly located, which may justly carry on the title of World’s Largest. The Sahuaro blossom is the State Flower of Arizona.”
Ooh, I’ve got to get my hands on that reward money!