Sometimes a used book is more than just a used book. On my last trip to New York, as you all know, I visited my favorite book store, The Strand. I searched for books about night clubs, New York, and Prohibition. I bought a ton of books, such as The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Gangster in America by Albert Fried and Legs by William Kennedy. But the one I picked up today from that haul is Stork Club : America’s Most Famous Nightspot and the Lost World of Cafe Society by Ralph Blumenthal. The Stork Club didn’t open until 1929, well after my next novel starts, but I thought the history of it would be helpful in my understanding how nightclubs and bootlegging operated, so I bought it.
This morning I cracked it open to begin my research. How delighted was I when this little gem fell out? A postcard sent in 1907, with the year 1907 emblazoned on gold on the front so I don’t have any doubts about it.
While there’s sadly no message on the back, on the front the sender has inked in “from Alma.” Note that in 1907 it was apparently unnecessary to put a state name in the address; everyone in New York (where the first postmark is from) must know where Hoboken is. Not sure how fast it traveled. Is “12 M” in New York meant as 12 midnight? Or is there an “A” or “P” I just can’t see? Either way, it was in New Jersey by that night. Wonder if there was mail delivery on New Year’s Day back then? New Year’s Day was a Tuesday, so perhaps?
I can’t help but wonder who left the card in the book. Unlikely to be the original recipient, as Annie, unfortunately, is probably long gone. Is it Annie’s grandchild? Did someone pick this up at a flea market because it’s pretty? Is there a connection between the postcard and the book? Why would someone use an antique postcard as a bookmark? Is someone looking frantically for the card, wondering where it is? So much fun from a book I haven’t even read yet! (And this, folks, is how many of my story ideas begin to formulate…)