Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Magical Mystery Tour

You know that cautionary tale that everyone says about putting shit out there on the internets for everyone to read, because "Once you put it out there--it's ALWAYS out there!"

I beg to differ.

Well sort of.

I agree, it's always out there.

But it's not any different from anything else. It's just easily more accessible, that's all.

Even still, the good old fashioned pen to paper word can still haunt you--via the internet!

I don't know why I've been into this lately, but I find myself cruising Etsy or Ebay for "vintage correspondence" -- letters that people have written to each other.

Most of what you find listed are mundane business letters, sappy love letters, or niche-war letters (from a soldier to a girl back home and vice versa).

However I stumbled upon this postcard today on Etsy being sold by someone in Texas.


Now, if you're familiar with northern New Jersey geography and the GSP Exit I live off of (I think maybe there's one, maybe two readers of this blog that will recognize the name of that town on the address), you'll know that Glen Ridge is right next door to where I live.

I pass by this house on my way to the bank every other Friday to deposit my paycheck.

So when I saw this postcard, I bought it. (It was $3 and a good way to use up the weird amounts I have left on giftcard credit cards my bosses always get me). When it arrives I'll reveal what originally drew me in to viewing this card. I'll keep you guessing as to what's on the other side for now!

Now I'm obsessed with finding out who this woman is/was.

At first I thought her name was Mrs. E. Longhatham.

But a Google search of that name comes up with NOTHING.

As someone with an extremely odd/rare last name (there's our branch of the family and another one in Wisconsin) I figure if our weird-ass last name makes it onto Google, than surely someone bearing the name Longhatham would.

No dice.

I decided I was reading the handwriting wrong.

I googled Longbotham and hit paydirt.

I think.

I found a preview of a census record for a Longbotham family living in Essex County New Jersey (the county I live in) showing a little boy named Edward Longbotham in that family who was 5 years old in 1910. That would make Eddie 34 years old when this postcard was mailed.

Perfect age to have a little Mrs. E. Longbotham keeping house with you.

More Googling of Edward Longbotham unearthed this letter from the Montclair Dramatic Club to Edward Longbotham.

Picture snagged from this expired Ebay listing.

The time frame fits. Montclair is close to Glenridge. But the address for Edward is wrong.

Being the legal secretary that I am and having to had look up the assessed values of people's homes for divorce settlement reasons in the past (and to track down MIA deponents in other matters), I hopped onto the New Jersey assessor's website and tried to figure out who currently owned the property at the address that Ed received mail at.

Nothing popped up.

Which is odd.

But not so much because currently that address appears to be a business address, upon even further Googling. So maybe it was a business back in 1932? "Probably" would be my guess.

And the distance between the two addresses is about 2 miles.

If I really cared, I could probably further cement the connection between these two items and figure out who Mrs. E. Longhatham/Longbotham was/is.

But I'll pretend she's named Betty, lived with Edward and they lived on Hillside Avenue in Glen Ridge.

Actually, in five minutes after I typed that last sentence, I did confirm this. shows snippets of city directories showing Edward and Elizabeth Longbotham living at Hillside Ave. (Snippets of enough where I don't have to pay anything to view the document).

Moral of the story: Even your old mail you thought didn't exist can entertain someone for an hour and a half one particular evening. It's ALWAYS out there!

And of course stay tuned to see what's on the other side of the postcard!



Blogger Zonda said...

I wanna see!! That is so interesting! :)

9:06 PM  
Blogger Crafty Christina said...

Wow, that's nuts that someone still has this postcard!

I know where Glen Ridge is. When we were looking to move, we must have scouted your entire county for places too.

Can't wait to see the other side!

9:14 PM  
Blogger Tactless Wonder said...

Hmmm, I could leave all manner of guesses but I don't want to spoil it know, like when you tell a kid, "Guess what I brought you!" And they're like, "A PONY!" And you're like, "Um, no, a chocolate..." and the faces fall?

I think I might be officially overworked, please disregard my insanity...

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess would be a building that you worked at or lived at or are living in right now.
Love, Mom

12:27 AM  
Blogger Donna Lee said...

Montclair is my alma mater (only then it was still a college not a fancy schmancy university) and I am very familiar with where Glen Ridge is. I think it's cool that you found a post card like that so close to home.

It's kind of sad that written correspondence of this kind won't exist much after my generation. My kids won't have the love letters, etc to look back on. Emails are nice and immediate but you can't hold one in your hands and see the handwriting. I still have several letters from my husband when he was in the Navy and at sea and I was in college.

7:04 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I love doing stuff like that. When we lived in Indiana, I read the abstract for our 1926 house. Discovered that not only was our historic plaque wrong, but our house was a a Sears house. Hehehehe.
I spent hours at the library searching old town records for the history of the guy who built it.
Can't wait to hear what's on the postcard!

7:54 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

That's some sleuthing you've done. You should go to work for that History Detective show that used to air on one of the cable channels.

I guess that's a lesson to us all to be very careful about what we put out there ;).

8:06 AM  
Blogger Cindy in Happy Valley said...

You ARE a tease!!

9:03 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're quite the detective, Bezzie! Amazing how much information you can find on the Internet now. Sure beats the old days having to go the library and go through microfiche and stacks of dusty books to research things.

I have no clue where Glen Ridge is, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the other side of that postcard says!

9:24 AM  
Blogger Shrinky Inky said...

i love these discoveries! Can't wait to see the other side. While on the trip to MI we obtained some family photos. a bit of detective/google-fu unearthed a story of hubby's uncle who died in 1944 as a pilot during WWII. we even found his MIA report and photos of the nose art of his plane online.

10:08 AM  
Blogger weezalana said...

I have this book, and think it would be right up your alley!:

11:20 AM  
Blogger janna said...

That is so cool!

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Marie Grace said...

That's so cool. I can't wait to see what's on the other side!

I have a quilt with a tag I need to research. My dad bought a box of cheap crap at an auction and the quilt was in the box. I found the quilt in the back of his truck all neglected and took it because it looked handmade. Turns out there's a tag on the back, the sort of tag put on quilts for display. There's a name and address from the next county over and then it says "Over 100 years old". Plus the quilt is completely hand-stitched and its all red, white, and blue. Its been mentioned to me that it may be a Civil War quilt. I really need to track down the name and address from the tag and see what I can learn about the person and the quilt.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I love that kind of snooping :-)

PS my code is gramp- I bet he was a gramp too...

5:18 AM  
Blogger Ina said...

Good sleuth work! Tactless Wonder has a good point, but I'm going to hazard a guess anyway: Alaska?

My security word is chemopil, urgh.

11:02 AM  
Blogger DPUTiger said...

OK, you have me intrigued. And I never would have thought to sell old correspondence to strangers on ebay. Weird.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

historical type stuff is always more interesting when you hae some kind of connection to it. Like being local!

8:05 PM  
Blogger My Three Snakes and Snails said...

My question is... what do you do with these letters/mail that you buy? I spend enough trying to organize my own crap... let alone buying other people's stuff. but you've peaked my interest... do tell!

9:29 PM  
Blogger Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

My guesses

A cookie recipe or
A knitting pattern

5:08 PM  

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