As I’ve continued packing Grandma Snail for her move into a new shell, I unearthed another trove of vintage postcards. (See the previous post of midcentury American postcards.) Today’s find was a clutch of postcards from Mama Snail–one from college in the States, and the rest while she was on exchange in England and exploring Western Europe in the mid-’70s.
From college in November 1975
“I got my birthday presents last night–thanks!…The gloves were much needed, + the Woody Allen book was great!…I think the See’s + the pistachios can go without comment. Send Clearasil. Thank you! Not much is going on up here, but the rain is coming down…have you ever heard of Jorge Luis Borges? Great fiction. If you can get ahold of his short story book Labyrinths–read it. I think you’ll like it. The $ arrived yesterday, but I realized after having walked up the hill earlier today that it[‘]s Veteran’s day + the banks are closed. grumble, grumble. Mom, if Kennedy doesn’t run, who’s it going to be, Jackson or Hubert H.?…”
Mama Snail had the privilege of studying abroad here at Keele University in England.
“Set off on great adventure tomorrow. Getting a ride from Mello, this Dutch kid all the way from Keele to Amsterdam! Taking the night ferry across–we’ll get a cabin for the night–be in Amsterdam Sunday morning…And so begins my first trip to Europe!…”
Caption: M.6. Motorway. Newcastle-under-Lyme
October 18, 1976
“…London was great; Keele is all right, though I’m living in a place oddly reminiscent of the dorms I lived in my freshman year…Taking horseback riding lessons…getting used to a new place. I really like England. Such a civilized country. This postcard’s of the road from [can’t make out] through the nearest town to Keele, Newcastle. We are really out in the country here. I see sheep + cows grazing as I walk to school–I mean 6 feet away! Whew!…”
Mama Snail marked “Keele post office” and where she was living, “Hawthorns back here somewhere.” On the back she added, “about 15 minutes down the road from campus proper.”
November 22, 1976
“…This is Keele Village, where the Hawthorns dorms are located (ugly brick dorms not visable [sic.] here)…I’m very glad I am here. Thanks a lot for the birthday presents–they were teriffic [sic.]. So far I’ve just seen London, Wales (last weekend) and the area around here…As I said on the phone, this weekend we will be going to Amsterdam–and I’m very excited about that. Horse riding (as they call it here) is a blast–after all these years! Otherwise, its just school like everywhere else…only with a different accent. I may be going to school in Leningrad for a month this summer; Every junior in Russian Studies here goes + I figure I may too…”
“Saw this today” Mama Snail wrote
Sir Henry Acland was an influential physician and multidisciplinary academic at Oxford and The Bodleian Library is Oxford’s main research library. Acland was close friends with John Ruskin, but I can not find what his connection was with young George. If you know, please comment!
December 20, 1976
“…Here I am in Oxford! I’ve been here since Friday and I’ll be staying for the next week. i’ve been staying with the brother + sister in law of a little freshman friend of mine with him + the guy from Swarthmore at their place 17 miles out in the country from Oxford. This next week Jan (Swarthmore) and I will be staying with some friends of theirs in Oxford proper–using it as a base for exploring the South (I was going to be spending this Christmas week with Jackie, but it didn’t work out). Never did make it to Amsterdam–too much work. Got the Christmas presents + thanks! It was really appreciated…The semester was fine, and I’m having a good time + believe it or not, I haven’t been sick once…”
Caption: OXFORD. Skyline showing the Dome of Radcliffe Camera and the Spire of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
December 29, 1976
“…I thought you should have a picture postcard of Oxford–I ended up staying there 10 days–left yesterday. Am now in Great Yarmouth visiting another friend named Alan from Keele. Staying here a day or two…We’re driving up first to Darlington in Yorkshire [not sure if that’s (still) accurate]–visit a friend of Alan’s + mine, then up to Edinburgh [can’t make out] to Montrose, and Inverness for New Years (the Scots don’t celebrate a big Christmas, New Year’s is their big holiday.) Staying with a friend of Alan’s…While Jan + I were in Oxford, we took a day-trip to Bath. Nice town, that. I’m sending a Bath postcard to Paul–you must check it out. Saw a bit of Cambridge on the way from Oxford to Great Yarmouth–my bus had an hour + 1/2 layover in Cambridge. Beautiful town, but unfortunately the bus station has no lockers so I had to schlep my stuff with me–so naturally I didn’t see all that much–but wow! I’d like to go back sometime.
P.S. It really does look like this!”
The Quai Vert, Bruges, Belgium
March 23, 1977
“If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium… Great.Not all of Bruges is like this–it[‘]s all old, but some parts are crowded with stores + cars, market square, while others (like this) are so quiet you can hear your hair grow. Really beautiful–the whole place. This is where they still make lace by hand and there are statues of the Madonna + Child in recesses on the corners of everyday buildings. Lots of tall-spired churches… Tomorrow to Trier in Germany…”
April 18, 1977
“Wrapping up our stay now in the Loire Valley (Tours as our base.) Having a good time…leave here tomorrow for two days in Rouen, one in London, then back up to Keele. From Nice we went to Arles (+ Avignon), Carcassonne, Perigueux, and now Tours.
“Sunday took a real rubberneck tour of chateaux–the formal gardens of this one I could see you going crazy over. This is the second tier of the formal 3-tiered garden…the first tier being a formal kitchen garden, this second one an ornamental garden on the theme of love (hearts + daggers + such) and the third tier a watergarden with swans + lily pads. Great!”
June 24, 1977
“So this is Ireland! Arrived Monday, spent the first night in Dun Laoghaire (prn. Dun Larey), then Dublin, then on to County Kerry–Tralee, then to the Dingle peninsula…the last couple nights in Castlegregory on the north coast (nice beaches!) Now we’re on our way to Dingle City, over the Connor Pass. It[‘]s beautiful…and has been very sunny until today. We’ll spend a coule of days around Dingle City on the south coast, then go up through Co. Clare to Co. Galway for a few days, then back to England (Cornwall)–but you’ll hear from me well before that. Say hi to everyone, and Mom–mellow out! Having a great time–the people here are teriffic [sic.], and the beer’s cold (for a change) and the pubs stay open late…”