Uncle Bob's Travels

Places I've hung out in, sometimes briefly.

Archive for the category “Ephemera/Postcards”

Diamond G

Diamond G Fabrics (along with Diamond G Farm and Diamond G Aviation, and, maybe, others) were all established by the Austin family of Greeneville TN.  This family kick-started the rise of Greeneville to being, at one time, one of the largest tobacco markets in the nation.  Apparently, Clyde Austin was quite the businessman.  And many thanks to the antique dealer in Greeneville who gave me this card.  The Diamond G logo can be seen above the “AUSTIN” on at least two prominent brick smokestacks in the downtown area.

Tobacco Warehouses

This card shows a tobacco auction sale at a warehouse in South Boston VA.  According to the note on the back, the auction started on September 23, 1946.  It’s a “Natural Finish” card made by Graycraft Card Co., Danville, Va.  Interesting, because Danville was one of the early tobacco markets in the southeast.

This is the only card I have that shows a tobacco auction in progress.

I got interested in the tobacco auctions, long gone since 2005 or so, after I chatted with the owner of a former warehouse.  Tobacco warehouses and auctions and allotments…these were just part of the landscape that I barely noticed growing up.  I tied some tobacco for drying once when I was a kid.  My hands and anything else that came in contact with the leaves got all tarry.  Hello, Lava soap!  Luckily, we didn’t grow tobacco and I managed to avoid that duty again.

Morristown, New Tazewell, Johnson City, Mountain City, Greeneville (among many others) were large markets.  Tobacco was a huge cash crop.  The tobacco would be harvested in July or August, then wrapped in bundles and hung on rods in barns to air dry (there were other ways to do this).

The auctions in this area ran from October to late January.  Professional graders and auctioneers would go from town to town to take care of it all.  Literally millions of pounds of tobacco would be bought by the big companies, re-dried and packed in hogsheads for shipping by rail or trucks.  If it had been a good year, the farmer took home enough money to do Christmas and get through to the next year.

Then it all went to hell.  The major companies decided to deal directly with the farmers on a contract basis, the campaign against tobacco use got serious, and the federal government politely stepped away from the whole thing.  Tobacco is still grown. We have good soil for Burley.

White Burley tobacco (for all intents and purposes, the “cigarette tobacco”) originated in Ohio (natural mutation) in the late 1800s. In 1884, the Duke family in North Carolina let loose a cascade of perfectly rolled machine-made cigarettes.  R. J. Reynolds introduced Camel cigarettes in 1913 and need for good “Virginia” burley (bright) to blend with Turkish tobacco increased, prompting farmers in this area to go for it.  And the tobacco companies spent fortunes in advertising their products.  Literally millions and millions of pounds of tobacco changed hands each of the years that smoking was rampant.

Mid-1930s to early 2000s.  Now the warehouses are either gone or used for storage and/or flea markets.

Nolichucky Dam

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Nolichucky Dam, Greene County TN. I found this in a plastic bag of old photos I picked up at an antique store.  This is a small picture: the picture itself (without the margins) is just 3″ x 2″.

A very similar picture is shown on the Tennessee Archives website.  That picture is dated to 1946.  This would have been shortly after TVA acquired the dam, which began operating in 1913.  In 1972, after too much sediment built up in Davy Crockett Lake to allow electrical generation, TVA shut the dam down and removed the equipment.

I read that there have been attempts to convert the dam into some sort of tourist attraction, but, to date, TVA is not amused.

Sutton Hall, Millligan College

Sutton Hall, as it appeared in the early 60s.  The Unknown Collector acquired this card in 1962, which is probably around the time the picture was taken.  The caption on the back calls it “one of the newer buildings on the campus”.  Joyce Haynes took the photo.  Published by Haynes Publishing Company in Roanoke.  Printed by Dexter of West Nyack NY.
The building is much changed now.

Hawkins County Memorial Hospital

This view of the hospital probably dates to the year after it opened; although, I can’t imagine any hospital having a completely empty parking lot, at any time.  The date in ink on the top of the card is when The Unknown Collector acquired the card.  TUC seems to have collected Haynes Publishing cards, for some reason.

The hospital certainly looks different today.

How Natural Tunnel Used to Look

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This is how the area looked before it became a state park in the late 60s.
The railroad built the line through this tunnel is 1893.  Can you imagine what the area around this tunnel looked like in the latter days of the 19th century?
To its credit, the park service has done good job in making the tunnel accessible, but not dangerously so.

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The acquisition date across the bottom is misleading, I think.  I’d date this card to the early 50s.  The tunnel, btw, is not 1557′ long…it’s 850′.

Greetings from Boone

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Actually, it’s “Greetings from North Carolina”.  It was cheaper to order these overprinted cards than setting up a whole new Boone postcard.  Thrift is good, but there’s really no memorial to the First Flight in Boone.  Oh, it’s the sentiment, you see.
This is an Asheville Post Card issue from, maybe, the early 50s.  It has clear inventory numbers, but I can’t tell what company actually printed the card.  Numbers with nothing to relate to are just wild in nature.

Two cards with a difference

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These two Asheville Post Card Company issues are both titled ” J.C. 85 GARDEN SCENE ON CAMPUS OF MILLIGAN COLLEGE, MILLIGAN COLLEGE, TENNESSEE”.  However, the top one has an inventory number of 90271 and the bottom one, E-7426 (I have yet to find any list of dates for APPC inventory numbers).

See how the same picture, more than likely originally a black-and-white shot, has been airbrushed differently in the two issues.  The top card is not postmarked, but the word “Post Card” on the back is in a typeface that was used in the 60s.  The bottom card is postmarked with a 1947 date.  Here are the backs of the same cards:

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I see this a lot.  The original picture was probably taken after WWII.  When someone ordered up a run of this card later on, APPC just recycled the picture and adjusted the colors to create a different-looking card.

B-23 Kings Mountain Memorial Hospital, Bristol, VA.-Tenn.

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I used to drive past this edifice back in the early 2000s.  It was derelict then and I used to wonder when someone would have mercy on the once gracious building and take it down.  That happened in 2008.  It had taken 20 years for the Sycamore Shoals DAR to scrape up the money to build this hospital, which opened up in 1925, taking the place of a smaller St. Luke’s hospital over on 10th Street (that hospital had been built in 1908).  This hospital was made redundant in 1953 when up went Bristol Memorial Hospital, which met its Waterloo when the remote Bristol Regional Medical Center was built in 1994.

This is standard, run-of-the-mill Asheville Post Card Company issue, early 50s, probably.  There is a car in the picture, behind the tree.  Inventory number of the card is E-4666.

Dale Neely Bridge

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This card took me a couple of hours to sort out.  I first learned that this bridge, over Watauga Lake, has been known as Butler Memorial Bridge since before 1960 (the earliest topo map I could find).  However, when the picture of this bridge was taken, in 1949 probably* the bridge was called the Dale Neely Bridge, named for the Dale Neely Branch near its southern abutment.  Note that the card refers to it as “Dale-Neely”, as if it were named for two people.  That’s not uncommon.  Asheville Post Card Company called the library in Johnson City the “Mayne-Williams” library.

Watauga Dam was completed in 1948 and this bridge was constructed in 1948.  “Dale Neely” was either a provisional name, or possibly the name of the lower bridge that this one replaced, which was later quietly brushed aside to provide a memorial for the town of Butler, lo, these many years beneath the waters of the lake.   Everything you would ever want to know about this bridge is here.

*The card was printed by Curt Teich in Chicago.  Its inventory number is OC-H449. “OC” indicates 1950 as the year of its printing.

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