Postcards from another time

Over the years I have accumulated a small stash of old postcards, showing Saint-Chinian as it once was.  A little while ago I decided it would be fun to try and show you some now and then pictures, so one day, not long ago, I set off with my camera.  The photographers of most of the original images would have had quite a lot of equipment to carry with them.  The camera would have been a large and heavy box on a tripod, with bellows attached to the front, and the negatives would have been on glass plates – you can still see cameras like that in some museums.  I am very thankful that things have evolved 🙂  I am able to carry my camera without giving myself a hernia, and taking pictures is definitely easier these days! In the early 20th century, postcards were commonly used to send short messages or greetings, much as we use our mobile phones today to send SMS. This first postcard is of Avenue de Cessenon – today called Avenue Raoul Bayou: avenue de cessenon.fw  avenue de cessenon reverse.fw The postcard was sent as a New Year’s card on January 2, 1916 to a Mr Dispens, and it appears to have been sent in an envelope, because of the missing postmark and address.  I’ve not been able to decipher all of the handwriting, but it could have been a wife writing to her husband at the front. It talks about little Michel, who has grown and talks so well, and looks so much like the addressee.  There’s also a bit about “if you don’t have enough to do you could come and paint a few cars”, and it signs off with “we cordially shake your hand”.  Perhaps some of that was coded language? Or perhaps it was not the wife at all but a friend writing to his buddy?  In all likelihood, Mr Dispens was probably a soldier at the time, either in barracks nearby, or fighting somewhere.  Avenue Raoul Bayou has changed over the intervening years, but the houses are pretty much the same as they were then: avenue de cessenon todayThe card below with the view of the river was sent on July 23, 1908 from a son to his father.  The father was staying in Lourdes, and the son was glad that the father had visited Pau on his way to a town whose name I cannot decipher, nor find on google maps.  The son tells his father that the wagon de pierre (I am assuming a cart to transport stones with) would be delivered on Thursday, and he mentions that he is behaving himself very well. vue de la rivere.fw vue de la rivere reverse.fw With the way the access to the riverbank has changed, it has been impossible for me to get the same viewpoint as the photographer in the early 1900’s.  The land where he would have set up his camera has become inaccessible, and trees have grown up in the riverbed, obscuring much of the view, but I had a go at it all the same! vue de la riviere today   The postcard below showing the Mairie, was written by a girl called Evelyne, who was in the first class at school.  She tells Michel and Mme Dispens that everyone is well and that Ponponne and ratonne are having a fun time. la mairie.fw la mairie reverse.fw The trees in the Mairie gardens have grown, the roofs over the towers have been changed, and there are no more horses in the street, but otherwise the view hasn’t changed all that much. la mairie today The postcard below of Grand Rue was written on March 8, 1916 – that’s almost 99 years ago!! The handwriting on the back of this card is a little tricky to read, but I have found that the writer hopes that the war would be over soon and that they would see each other in good health.  So this is possibly another postcard sent to a soldier somewhere. grand rue.fw grand rue reverse.fw Although Grand Rue has undergone a great deal of change during the past 100 years, the buildings are all still there.  The building of the Hotel Bouttes houses today Le Vernazobre restaurant and bar, and the pharmacy.  The building which once housed Au Bon Marche has undergone a fair amount of transformation.  Gone are the ornate cornices above the doors, and the shutters have all disappeared along with the wrought iron railings.  Today the building houses Credit Agricole bank, and the three windows just before Le Vernazobre have become a private house. grand rue today I’ve enjoyed trying to re-create the views!  Since there are more postcards in my stash I will call this a work in progress!  Do let me know if you find any old postcards of St Chinian!  And don’t forget, today’s postcards will be tomorrow’s heirlooms…

24 thoughts on “Postcards from another time

  1. Hello! Thank you for liking my recent post. Your post gives a fascinating view into the changes in landscapes over time. I’ll be following your blog…I like your vignettes of scenery and daily life. 🙂 Wishing you the best!


  2. Very interesting. Looks like it is a great place to live. To me used, posted postcards are much more interesting than old cards in ‘as new’ condition because of the messages frozen in time on the back that you get to read. Best wishes,Bob.


  3. Hi Andreas, ein ganz wundervoller und anmutender post. Die Kultur des Postkarten Schreibens war schon eine andere als die sms-Ära! LG aus dem hohen Norden!!


  4. Pingback: Saint-Chinian Triumphs | Cars on Streets

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