Thursday, August 2, 2012

Please Visit Me

 I've had a few problems with this postcard.  I'm  fairly certain that I've got the message right, but the names and address....let's just say that my handwriting is better and I've got lousy handwriting.

This card is postmarked, "FAYETTE CITY, PA 5 PM 1911"  It's addressed to "Miss Bella Kahoir (?) 935 Terrace (?) Str., McKeesport, Pa."  And the message, "Dear Sister, When is any one of you coming out to se me love all Moroi (?)"

For someone like me who grew up in coal country, western Pennsylvania, this is a fascinating card.  Fayette City is the sight of a legendary coal mining disaster.  On December 7, 1907, an explosion at the Naomi Mine killed 34 miners.  Fayette City was, and still is, a pretty small town.  Those 34 deaths pretty much wiped out the working age, male population of the community.  Perhaps Bella moved to McKeesport, a mill town on the Monogahela River, south of Pittsburgh after the disaster.  Perhaps Moroi had married a miner and moved to Fayette City. In either case, there's a good chance  that one of the sisters, possibly both, lost a husband, or father or brother in the mines.

When I was in high school, we had to take a course in Pennsylvania history.  I can remember spending a couple of weeks going over mill and mine disasters.  In 1907, most coal companies would have given the family of a dead miner a few hundred dollars, a months free rent in company owned housing and then that family would have been evicted and left to fend for itself.  If a young widow didn't find another husband or a job of her own it was starvation, homelessness or prostitution.

The lady on the card is Phyllis Dare, and English stage actress born in 1890, died 1975.  She was noted for her work in musicals.

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