At my last visit to a postcard fair, I bought a small bundle of twenty-two postcards dating from 1910-15. Individually they weren’t expensive, just 50p each (the seller sold them for £10) and I hoped to be able to share a snippet or two from the collection.
The address of one of the cards initially attracted me to them, ‘Mr Cyril Smith, Post Office, Sudbury, Suffolk – Staff’, I eventually bought 2 bearing this address. I thought it was a tangential link to my interest in postal history, but as I looked further, I realised that many of the postcards on sale were addressed to the same man, even when he resided at different addresses, another being 311 Norwich Road, Ipswich, and these postcards offered us a glimpse into his early twentieth century life. The postcard box I was searching through were part of a personal collection.
Postcard dated 13 May 1913
How do you like Sudbury and the Sudbury Flappers? Have not returned to the office yet, in fact have only been able to get up two days since leaving Ipswich. Getting on towards recovery now. Hope you will have a good time. Con sends regards. Yours Olive.’
Postcard dated 19 May 1913
Thanks muchly for PC [postcard] of yesterday. Yes, am progressing favourably now. Won’t think I shall be in IH [Ipswich?] for a little time. Do you think you will be coming to C&S [Clacton-on-Sea] for the season? Great excitement locally re bandstand. Glad to hear you have found a “little bit of stuff”. Kindest regards. Yours Olive.’
The cards make me want to search further – however census paywalls have scuppered that, I will have to wait until I can visit the local archives to explore that avenue for free.
Who were the Sudbury Flappers? And who is the ‘little bit of stuff’?
There is a card sent to ‘Miss Pussie Smith’ indicating that she was to pass it on to Cyril as it completed his set. It’s a nice set, date-stamped between 1913-14, a pretty dark-haired woman in a white blouse is posed in front of a light background wearing a turban-style hat (or indeed a scarf). On one card Olive remarks ‘rather saucy this one, eh?’ At a glance, you could possibly think they are duplicates, but there are subtle differences in composition and colour. Olive says to Cyril in one missive, ‘love to Mum and Puss’ – were Olive, Puss and Cyril siblings? It seems that Pussie and Cyril shared a hobby of collecting postcards as Olive promised to send Pussie some ‘pretty ones later’.
The name ‘Pussie’ is intriguing – these days, of course, it is used as a slang term for female genitalia and a derogatory term for a coward, but previously it was a term of endearment. Indeed, Agatha Christie uses it to describe older ladies and there are examples of it being used for young girls. Examples of its use in literature can be found here. I’ve not located, as yet, a first name that it is a diminutive of, however, it does spring to mind a certain Bond girl.
I bought these cards before reading them and I wish now I had bought more – to find out more about Cyril and his correspondents and to complete the sets of cards! I bought three examples of another set, all posted in 1914. These are dark in composition and again have a beautiful woman gazing at the camera. Her dress and headband change colour with each postcard and I’d love the set to frame. These cards were sent to Cyril after the outbreak of World War One when he was serving in the 6th Suffolk Regiment. Olive remarks in one, ‘sorry you are having such a stiff time but *cheer oh*’ and in another, ‘what do you think of this beauty?’
Cyril’s other correspondents include Pussie, Trissie, Katie and ‘Mother’, I’ll examine their postcards in another post.
Photos author’s own unless stated.