Snail's Postcard Post

Sailor George’s Postcards

The Snail Family’s friend Judith surprised me with a clutch of antique postcards that belonged to her grandfather, George C. Jones. Knowing I love old postcards with messages written on them, Judith gave me ones that George received while in the Navy.

In the years of these postcards, 1910-12, George was stationed aboard the USS Washington (ACR-11, for “Armored Cruiser No. 11”).   1024px-USS_Washington_LOC_cph_3c12328USS Washington in 1909

The crew began 1910 in Yokohama. Making stops in Honolulu and Washington State, they then made base in San Francisco, tending to activities off central California. In August, they waved goodbye to the Golden Gate, bound for a tour of  South America. The USS Washington made several stops in Chile, and visited Rio de Janeiro, Barbados, and the Danish West Indies. By November, she arrived for target practice in Puerto Rico. The voyage ended in Virginia as the year came to a close.

1911 sent the USS Washington on a resupply mission to Guantanamo Bay, where the crew performed exercises all spring. The summer and fall saw the ship cruising around the Northeast–Virginia, New York, Cape Cod. In November, the crew assisted with some sort of search in the West Indies, arriving in Santo Domingo near the end of the month. They then headed back to Virginia, where the ship went into drydock in time for Christmas.

1912 began with maneuvers in Guantanamo Bay. In February, after preparations in Virginia, the USS Washington then set out for Key West, where she welcomed aboard the Secretary of State and his guests for a grand tour. They travelled to Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, the Danish West Indies, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba, returning to Maryland in April. The ship docked in various Northeastern ports for the rest of the month, before setting up base in Key West, anticipating rebellion in Cuba, where the crew went into active duty in June. Then it was back to the Northeastern United States. 

I like imagining George’s progress as matched with his postcards.IMG_9162California Admission Day celebrates the state’s admission to the Union on September 9, 1850.   

This memento of California pride also served to boost the upcoming Panama-Pacific Exposition to be held in San Francisco in 1915. IMG_9163IMG_9164Above the Sutro baths and near the horse races at Ocean Beach, the Cliff House was one of the most distinguished restaurants of the early West Coast. Founded in 1863, it was the dining choice of the Hearsts, the Stanfords, and as the Cliff House website winkingly puts it, “less savory citizens from the Barbary Coast.”

On Christmas of 1894, a chimney fire burned the whole place down. Millionaire and future San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro took up rebuilding. When the Cliff House reopened two years later, it boasted an observation tower, parlors and reception rooms, art and collection galleries, and music and dance spaces.

In the early 1900’s, the Cliff House underwent remodeling, and was just about to reopen in 1907, when it again burned to the ground. To quote the website again, “This exquisite building had survived the 1906 earthquake only to succumb to a raging fire that destroyed it in less than two hours.” 

Adolph Sutro’s daughter, Dr. Emma Merritt, led the rebuilding of the Cliff House once more. The new Cliff House, as this postcard suggests, opened in 1909, and continues to live the high life today. IMG_9165Dear Friend: Received your letter. Will answer soon. My mother is quite ill.

Mr. G. Jones
U.S.S. Washington
To Post-Master
San Francisco
CalifIMG_9166IMG_9167Dear Geo.
Best wishes for a good Thanksgiving dinner. Will write later. Address the chutes. Tillmore + Eddy.
FrankIMG_9168IMG_9169I thank you for the card. I am glad to see that you have not entirely forgotten your brother

(I can’t make out his name. Will ask Judith.)IMG_9170IMG_9171Friend Geo.
Wishing you a happy one. It certainly will be a great one for me. 21 for me on Jan 30. Wishing you the best of luck. I remain
Frank J. Peckham

Same Frank as the Thanksgiving postcard. Seems he was a San Francisco native born in 1890. 

I’ve never seen that Red Cross stamp before!IMG_9176Can you remember as far back as this. 

This subcaption from Frank leads me to think he and George were childhood friends.IMG_9177

Friend George.
Well how is everybody. I met Maxwell the other day. He is in the San Mateo Band (?) now + working at something else in the day time.

Note the Panama-Pacific Exposition cancellation stamp. It’s also cool that you can tell the USS Washington had probably just switched Navy yards. 

IMG_9174Dig the spats!IMG_9175Dear Jones
How do you like this card. Come over early so we can have some fun. ans. or come. (?) If you can’t come, write. 


Look at all the languages the heading is in. Now I know how to write “postcard” in 16 languages! Interesting for such an all-American postcard. And the card was made in Germany…
This one’s blank. Judith sent me a message saying, “It seems my grandfather was in the merchant marines when he was 15 or 16 then the navy and as a young man didn’t have the money for a camera, he bought postcards from all over.” 

I’m so honored Judith has passed these on to me. I can’t wait to see more of the ones handpicked from George’s travels. 

This entry was published on January 20, 2015 at 9:05 pm. It’s filed under Americana, Historical and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Sailor George’s Postcards

  1. Pingback: Find the Flag | Snail's Postcard Post

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