We have a lot of postcards in our collections.  Those that features local scenes are accessible in our research library, as part of our photograph resources.  I love postcards, and while I appreciate the photos on the front, it’s the messages on the back that are the best part: little snippets of life; some clear, some cryptic, almost always entertaining.  (And yes,  I will be one of the people enjoying archived Twitter accounts at the Library of Congress in 50 years.)

Here’s a great card. First, the more obviously ‘useful’ aspect:  This photographic card shows High View House Hotel, Burdette, Md.  Montgomery County was home to many summer resorts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, enticing D.C. residents out of the sultry city and into the fresh air of the countryside; many of these hotels were down-county, but the Metropolitan Line railroad meant that up-county communities could get in on the game as well.  In 1887, Somerset T. Williams built a 22 room hotel in Burdette, outside Boyds (a stop on the Line).  He named it High View thanks to its, well, high view over Ten Mile Creek.  It was also known as the Burdette Hotel.  (The building is still standing, I believe; it is a private residence.)  This photo shows a small crowd of people (and possibly one or more dogs) sitting on the porch; doesn’t it look nice and shady?  I’d stay there.

Now for the fun part.  The card is addressed to Miss Wottie King, Germantown, and postmarked Boyds, September 9, 1909.  The message reads: “Dear Wottie – come down with Norman when he brings my skirt, for I want to see you.  Mabel.”

Fantastic!  Who are Mabel and Wottie?  Is Mabel staying at the hotel, or does she live near it?  Did she meet Wottie at the hotel, or do they know each other some other way? Who is Norman, and why does he have Mabel’s skirt?  We may never know (at least not about the skirt), but it’s fun to try and find out.  I get a teenager vibe from this, perhaps wrongly.  I’ve started poking around the census looking for Wottie and Mabel, with no definitive results as yet though I may have found a pair of 14 year olds who fit the bill.  Anyone have an idea what name “Wottie” might be short for?

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