Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Real" Photos That Are Not Real

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Most people today realize that some of the pictures they receive in emails have been doctored but that is nothing new. Postcards in the early 1900s were sometimes no better and I'm talking about "real photo" postcards as well as the printed ones. These exaggerations are usually easy to spot, such as an ear of corn on a railroad flatcar, and many postcards were altered just to improve the general appearance of the the town such as deleting the manure from the streets or removing some of those telephone/power poles and lines so you would see a nice clean town. However, sometimes printers, publishers or photographers went a little farther and added some "progress" to the small towns such as new buildings or even a trolley or streetcar line. The first "real" photo shows Main Street in Iola Wisconsin, post marked 1912, and shows a 10 story building in a town whose 1910 population was 850 people. When I put this post card in my Wisconsin listings on my website Moody's Postcards, I soon got an email from a town historian who assured me there was never such a building in Iola.

The second "real" photo postcard is from Hustisford Wisconsin and shows a quite little town with a trolley or streetcar with the power line extending into the distance while the track ends at the back end of the streetcar. The population of this "metropolis" was 615 people in the 1910 census and the postmark is 1911. Maybe it is time to pull out some of your postcards and see if you can find some examples of the additions and deletions.

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