Postcards From the Past

A chance find at an antique show opens a window on the old days.

January/February 1998

Reading time min

Postcards From the Past

Courtesy of John P. Martin

We don't know much about Mrs. T.E. Coleman. She lived at 614 Kierman Avenue in Spokane, Wash., and during 1910 and 1911, received a series of postcards from a man named Fred, which she carefully mounted in an album. More than 75 years later, John Martin, '80, a criminal defense lawyer who works in Los Angeles, stumbled across the quaint, gray Edwardian album while attending a show of period postcards and photos in Burbank. "I kept turning the pages. The cards were beautiful," says Martin, a collector of 3D, or stereo, photography. "There's no way I wasn't going to buy them."

Many of the cards have Mrs. Coleman's address with a stamp, a postmark and nothing else. However, one card, showing a scene from Lake Tahoe but postmarked San Francisco, bears the enigmatic message: "Just heard from Bird that you had left for home. I am going down to Palo Alto Sunday. Fred." The return address is 701 Fulton Street.

All the cards are in the handwriting of the mysterious Fred, and although both he and Mrs. Coleman were obviously interested in Stanford, neither seems to have been an alum.

But the postcards reproduced here do have a direct Stanford connection beyond their subjects. They were published by Crandall and Robinson of Palo Alto. Berton Crandall, who was a graduate of the fateful earthquake class of 1906, took the three pre-earthquake photos while he was a student.

You May Also Like

© Stanford University. Stanford, California 94305.