Myrtle Fry & Ethel McCutcheon
The Savoy Apartments
Postmarked: Oct (blank) 1918 8:30 AM Houston, Texas
To: Miss M. Fry.
I suppose you think I am a long time in answering you I have been quite busy. so you will forgive me. We are so short of girls so many [before?] Influence. I will be glad to see your sis when she comes to Ho. Preston 9486. my phone No.
The first American postcards were issued by the United States Postal Service from 1873 until 1898 marked on the back as "Post Card" leaving the entire back for the address. On May 19, 1898 Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act which opened up the market to private firms. At first only the United States Postal Service could use the term "Post Card," with private firms using "Private Mailing Card," "Souvenir Card," "Correspondence Card" or "Mail Card," but after December 24th, 1901 the designation "Post Card" no longer distinguished governmental printings. Messages on all of these early cards were confined to the front, often in a narrow marginal strip or written directly over the image.
The use of postcards increased dramatically when congress passed the federal law on March 1, 1907 allowing the sender to include a message on the back of the card, which had a "divided back" with a line running down the middle prescribing a left half for a message and a right half for the address. More importantly, the cost of mailing a postcard went from two pennies, the cost of mailing a letter, to a penny. Suddenly the cheapest way to send a message across America was by postcard. The sending of postcards suddenly became the pursuit of nearly everybody in America.
Methods of printing
The official figures from the U.S. Post Office for their fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, cite 677,777,798 postcards mailed. At that time the total population of the United States was only 88,700,000!
In the summer of 2012 I obtained a 1918 postcard of the Savoy Apartments written from Ethel to her "chum" Myrtle Fry of Killeen, TX. In closing Ethel gives her phone number as PReston 9486. Up for auction from the same vendor were additional cards from Ethel to Myrtle, so I had an incentive to determine who this Ethel X was. I made my way to the Houston Research Library where city directories from 1866 to 1923 can be searched for names, including first names. When I entered "Ethel" there came back 179 entries, which might seem too daunting to be practical. Unfortunately, telephone listings were not included, but working from the indexed city directory to the fiche of the phone book from the same year, I was able to determine from the 74th entry that E. A. McCutcheon, residence 204 Bayou was the author of the postcard. From this small point of entry I was able to find a great deal about this woman.
Henry L. McCutcheon
Harry Knox McCutcheon
In 1915, there were only a few McCutcheon families in Houston, those listed above, and William McCutcheon. William was the step-brother of Madura Miller, who sent a postcard of Beth Israel Synagog on 27 September, 1909.
m1: Victor Arthur Lang [divorced]
m2: James Portiraine [Pert] [Port] McMillan on
Rieffert Q. Ward