Posting vignettes based on great postcards found in my mail box and elsewhere.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Merry Christmas, Sugah

How do you say Merry Christmas to someone far away? Today, you could phone or text or send a snail-mail, traditional, greeting card. The elaborate holiday greeting postcard from the 1950’s shows a plethora of Alaska native life scenes within the x-mas lettering. On the top left is printed “Hello, Ed Levin.” and just below the Christmas tree, center left , is ““Sugah” Levin.” Between both Ed and Sugah's first and last names is a trapezoid box with dates: 1954 for Ed and 1953 for Sugah. Are these birth dates?

The mystery of this card deepens on the reverse side where a penned message is written from Ed to Vera. Apparently, Ed was not able to make it to Alaska the past summer after being elected County Supervisor but promised to return the coming summer. The interesting thing is there is no postage or postmarks which makes me think the card made its way to Alaska via an envelope.

I found this card at a yard sale this summer along with many vintage postcards. I was intrigued by the multiple and varied images within the lettering. There are dog teams, animal pelts, whaling and boating scenes, even a boxing scene and numerous portraits of men, women and children in fur parkas.

The mystery is someone put these images together and must have know the identities of the models. Was this a family portrait? Was this Ed’s family or the accumulation of his travels in Alaska? Was Vera, “Sugah?” Was Vera, Ed's sister, lover, mother, or ex-wife? Anything is possible. One possibility is that Vera is Ed's mother. The card might have been sent to commemorate the birth of him and his sister, perhaps near Christmas.

An Internet search turned up a couple of possibilities. Ed Levin, a recording engineer, accompanied Father Bernard Hubbard to King Island, Alaska Territory in the 1930's. They filmed 27 hours of footage and taped more than seven hours of sound recordings of the native people there. In the 1990's these recordings were repatriated by the King Islanders. This could be the same Ed who became the Santa Clara, California, Supervisor, Ed R. Levin. He led a campaign to acquire state property for a park. Levin died in 1966. In 1969 Airpoint Park was renamed and opened as Ed R. Levin Park. I do not know if this Levin was the cards maker or sender, though the images, message on the back and the supervisor's timeline would be possible.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa Claus House

This is a postcard of the original Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska. Yes, there is a real city named North Pole, a few miles east of Fairbanks, Alaska. There you can visit Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus year round, except Christmas Eve when he is rather busy. Forget Christmas Day too when he's taking a well deserved rest.

The original Santa Claus House, 511 Santa Claus Lane, seen in this card, was begun in 1952. This picture postcard shows some add-ons to the original log structure. Beginning in 1954, this building served as the North Pole post office for 20 years. Santa had to move his residence when the state highway was relocated in 1974. Santa, knowing he had a tradition to uphold, moved his house to the current location on St. Nicholas Lane, which is today visible from the Richardson Highway, the main route between the Canadian border and Fairbanks.

You can find the Santa Claus House web site here. Along with remaining accessible year-round, for almost sixty years Santa has offered kids an official letter from Santa on Santa's own stationary. And can you believe some people don't think he is real.