Personally, I can find about a billion different reasons why sending and receiving mail while traveling (or from a traveler) is second only to the journey itself: anticipation, sharing, creativity, gloating, surprise, touching base…The list could go on forever. No surprise here: I’m a total sucker for mail. I have a collection of almost everything I’ve received in my mailbox (yes, emails fall into this category, too) for the past decade-plus.
Particularly postcards. I. Love. Postcards. Old, new, tacky, hand-made, blank, mass-produced… it ain’t no thang. I keep them all, even if I was never the intended recipient! Among the crown jewels in my collection are a set of four postcards from October and November, 1900 in which a woman named Ruby travels throughout Europe and sends postcards to her mother, Silas Gurney, back in Maine.
Dear Mama Nov. 26, 1900
This [sic] a picture of the old Arena here, the town is very old and much to see, the trip here from Milan is lovely, we saw the Alps covered with snow on the other side
- love Ruby
Nov. 25, 1900
Dearest Mama, Here is another place where we stayed five years ago at the hotel on the Lake a lovely place they did not have postals when I was there, so got this one now, although I have not been in Lugano this year
love - Ruby
Part of why I love Ruby’s cards is because they harken back to a time when exploring the world as vastly as she had was so rare. With information moving much more slowly a century ago, the adventure was all the greater, since travelers relied much more on hearsay with regards to what awaited them at their destination, rather than the ‘factual’ knowledge swirling around today in guide books, the internetz, etc.
That said, looking back on this care package letter my father sent to me while studying abroad in Cameroon has its moments of delightful uncertainty about the particulars of my reality:
Yes, I had my father mail bacon to Africa.
Mail lets the receiver know they’re thought of, and gives the sender a processing outlet, regardless of what they make of it. Along a similar vein, another favorite is the following postcard, sent by an old friend while she visited England for the first time:
Anyway, I hope you’re beginning to catch my drift. We at Atlas Obscura want to be a part of your journeys. Keep us in the loop by sending us mail – whether it be postcards, love/hate letters, or gifts, we’ll take them all! – from your adventures near and far.
SEND MAIL TO:
c/o Dylan Thuras
186 Franklin St. Apt #C11
Brooklyn, NY 11222
We’ll publish the goodies in our upcoming, regular “Mail Bag” posts, so that our entire audience can share the joy!