Happy Christmas!

Clearing out a house after someone you love has died is a sad thing to have to do, but sometimes you come across little pockets of joy such as these Christmas postcards from 1908. Only two have been sent, both by the unknown (to me) Ethel. The one above is addressed to Mrs Marrow, 12 Prospect Place, Woolwich, and is postmarked 1.30pm, December 23rd 1908. The message reads With all loving wishes for Xmas from Ethel.

I have no idea who Mrs Marrow is, but there are clues in the second card which, because it is inscribed For Auld Lang Syne, I initially took to be a New Year card. However, its postmark is exactly the same as the first card, and this time the place of posting is visible – Sheerness in Kent. Ethel greets Mr and Mrs Maskell, also living at 12 Prospect Place, With all good wishes for Xmas from Ethel. Now I understand how these cards came into Mum’s possession. My Great Aunt Anna married Bob Maskell in 1931, and I suspect these were his parents and Mrs Marrow was their neighbour. Possibly, given the more intimate message on her card, Ethel was Mrs Marrow’s daughter.

Woolwich Arsenal was a major employer in the area, but in 1910 much of the work was moved to the newly built Royal Naval Torpedo Factory in Greenock and many families from London moved up to Scotland with it, including the Maskells and the Strouds – my maternal grandfather’s family. So these cards are definitely part of my history.

The cards in the final gallery are unused, but the three floral ones are also marked 1908. Two recommend that you should tell the wish of thy heart in flowers, one having the emblem of true love (forget-me-not) and the other the emblem of fond love (rose). Perhaps poor Ethel did not have a true love to send them to. I like the bridge and windmill scene, but I don’t think I will be the only one feeling a little freaked out by the woman with buckets of babies. Is she delivering them as Christmas gifts? Weird!

Happy Christmas to all who celebrate it. I hope whatever you will be doing tomorrow it is as wonderful as it can possibly be.

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