Digest>Archives> May/Jun 2021

Wickie's Wisdom

Saving an Industry

By Timothy Harrison


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Lighthouse post cards have been around since the late 1800s when the federal government first allowed images to appear on them. Today, these old post cards have helped to preserve the photographic history of lighthouses, as well as giving us a personal insight into the lives of the people who wrote messages on them.

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Post cards also created jobs for the photographers who took the images, for the printers who manufactured them, for the stores who sold them, and generated publicity for tourism in the areas that the cards were sent from. In many cases, this was the only image that many people would ever see of a specific lighthouse. Nearly everyone saved them and few were discarded. This is why there are so many people who have discovered the entertaining hobby of collecting antique post cards.

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Fast forward to today where we have more and more people who are sending photos via email or posting them on social media. Because of this, the post card industry is now in danger of disappearing forever, something that was made even worse with the dramatic drop in tourism business during the Pandemic. In fact, some post card manufactures have stopped publishing altogether, leaving fewer companies still producing them, which also reduces the number of lighthouse images that will be available.

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I can’t remember when it was that I last received a picture post card in the mail. I miss them. I could put them on the refrigerator, or on the bulletin board for all to see and enjoy. They meant that someone was thinking about me and wanted to share an experience.

No matter how many emoji hearts or smiles are attached to an email or a social media post, they are still just pixels on a screen. You can’t put them in a shoe box to save them for posterity and years later look back at them with fond memories. There is no warmth in a digital greeting like there is with a personalized handwritten post card that might say something like, “Having a great time, wish you were here,” or “Arrived safely, saw this lighthouse today.”

Also, as we all know, the U.S. Postal Service is in trouble. So, if everyone would just start purchasing and mailing lighthouse post cards using a first-class Forever postage stamp, we will help to save not only the post card industry, but we will also help the mail carriers keep their jobs, which are essential to our way of life.

It’s time to get out and buy some lighthouse post cards.

Timothy Harrison

Editor & Publisher

Lighthouse Digest

This story appeared in the May/Jun 2021 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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