Friday, August 3, 2012

A Message From the Past on an Old Postcard

Vintage postcard of the foothills that surround the Santa Clara Valley.

I have seen the vintage postcard, above, several times on the Internet and it has always caught my eye. Something about it called to mind the view we used to have from our old kitchen window.

I remember admiring a little farm up there with an orchard and seeing a man on a tractor, turning over the ground in between the rows of trees. I often thought I would like to go up there to live.

I finally found a copy of the card to buy and got it because I thought it might make a good illustration for the apricot book I'm working on. I did wonder if, perhaps, I imagined the connection between the view on the old card, my memory of the view out our old window, and the story of apricot orchards in this valley and its lovely surrounding foothills.

Then I turned the card over. It was mailed in July of 1917 from Cupertino, California to a family in Ithica, New York. The handwriting is a little difficult to read, but I'll do the best I can:

"Dear Bro. & Sister & Family--I send you a view of the foothills covered with orchards. Maud pestered us and so we came out here for a week and perhaps two. How we wish you were with us for a change. These orchards are about 5 miles from our summer house. Some day we will have fruit too--In three or four years we will have enough apricots for our own use and perhaps to sell. It will take the trees we planted this spring about 4 or 5 years before we get much from them. We often think of you. You are getting such good prices you ought to afford a trip to California. It would do you good."

The view I remember out the window of our first house (the one across the street from the one I'm in now) didn't exist only in my imagination. To someone it 1917 it looked enough like their own apricot trees that it caused them to buy the card and send it to family in New York.

It was like finding buried treasure to read their words. To find this and to be reminded of the vista before it was covered with suburban homes--that was buried treasure too. The region remains beautiful and the perfect days are just as lovely as they always were.

(I sometimes wish my father had bought that little farm: he could have. I think he might have wanted to do something like that as he told me once he always wanted to live on a hill, but couldn't get my mother to move. I can't complain. The little 1/3 acre he left me and my sister keeps me busy enough!)

Yes, it is true, the view out my window has changed. But in the gardens and backyards of the Santa Clara Valley, we still grow really good produce of all kinds--apricots included. And with the unknown writer I discovered today, I join in saying: "You ought to afford a trip out here. It would do you good."

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2 comments:

Ron Vandehey said...

Nice site Robin! I landed here somehow after a visit to Jim Little's Facebook page. He had helped me a few times with some of my radio work years back.
I recently ran across my VHS tape of the KGW-TV Sunday evening news, May 18th, 1980...that's right - Mt St Helens...fascinating to view after so many years :)
Anyway- you all were our evening news family 'back in the day'.

Robin Chapman said...

I always enjoy it when people stumble across my blog site. I certainly have had an eventful life and believe me know how lucky I am. Hope you continue to be a "reader." RC