Postcards And Slang – I’m Out Of The Swim.

Even though most messages sent via postcard are fairly standard updates about the weather and/or places of interest, it often feels a bit voyeuristic to be transcribing these messages from the more or less distant past.  Every once in a while I come across a card that has to be shared because it presents some pretty funny content.

Grady, the sender of the card below, offset his slang phrases in quotations which made it easy for me to notice them more than 95 years after the card was mailed.  He writes, “Howdy! Why didn’t you come to Charlotte today? There’s “some time” going on here and I’m “in the swim.” May I write to you tomorrow? Grady.

When I showed some co-workers my find, we immediately began looking for definitions and references to the phrase “in the swim.”

Like any good librarian, my boss checked the OED.  Sure enough, “in the swim” has been in use since 1869, meaning, “the current of affairs or events, esp. the popular current in business, fashion, or opinion; chiefly in phr. in (out of) the swim.”

And as for “some time?”  That could mean any number of things, and we’ll leave that to your own imagination of what the movers and shakers of 1910s Charlotte were doing.

Button From Bethabara

Our recent post about the arrival of the Moravians in North Carolina prompted a comment which reminded us that the North Carolina Collection has a pinback button that features a real photo view of the Moravian Church quite similar to photograph used to illustrate Harry McKown’s ‘This Month‘ article.

This image is not to scale – the button itself is rather small, maybe half an inch in diameter. Curiously, the button reads, “Souvenir. Bethabra 1788. 1753.”  My first thought was that the button was commemorative of the 35th anniversay of the arrival of the Moravians.  My boss kindly pointed out that my theory that the photograph and button dated to 1788 was unlikely, as the process of chemical photography was, excuse the pun, not yet developed.

The Price Is What?

Seemingly a simple street view of Henderson, NC, this postcard was mailed to New York City in 1958 bearing one Hendersonian’s guess for The Price is Right’s Home Showcase contest. Thinking about consumer society and the explosion of mass-marketed home appliances and electronics during the 1950s, I’d be curious to know what item she was bidding over eight thousand dollars on – and how much it would cost today!