A postcard from the past, just before the world changed

Ah yes: life was good at The Golden Shores (819-820 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach, Florida) on August 12, 1959. Just before the world changed.

Raymond and I were driving back to Montreal from the Manse in Queensborough one recent sunny Sunday afternoon and on a whim stopped in at an antique shop in tiny Lombardy, Ont. We did not exactly exhibit big-spender behaviour: Raymond bought some small thing or other, and I paid $2 for an early-1960s shopping guide for American tourists in Quebec City, which was rich in its funkiness, and a princely $1 for the GIANT POST CARD (as it is billed on the reverse side) that you can see at the top of this post.

I loved many things about the GIANT POST CARD, including the fact that it came from the era when GIANT POST CARDs were a big deal in postcard-land. I loved the colour photos on the front showing people enjoying the pool and the palm trees and the sunshine at The Golden Shores motel or resort or whatever it was in Pompano Beach, Florida. I loved the message to the recipients written on the back in what looks like fountain pen, and more on that anon.

But what really got me was the date the card was written and postmarked: August 12, 1959.

1959: The Year Everything Changed is a book by American writer Fred Kaplan. In it, he argues that all the things we think of as “modern,” and many of the things we think of as having originated in “The Sixties,” actually came about in 1959. He talks about architecture, art, science, politics and so on, and how what was happening in all those areas in 1959 pushed us from the postwar era into the modern era.

Whether you subscribe to Kaplan’s thesis or not, you have to admit that the world on Aug. 12, 1959, was probably a simpler place for the average North American couple/family sending a postcard back from Pompano Beach to friends in Eastern Ontario than it would be just a few short years later, as their children came of age and rock and roll and protest and God knows what (free love!) suddenly happened. I felt a particular pang when I found the GIANT POST CARD and its postmark because, growing up at the Manse in the 1960s, I had a front-row seat – albeit a child seat – to those epochal changes.

Anyway, here is the fountain-pen-penned message written Aug. 12, 1959, at The Golden Shores in Pompano Beach and sent back to Eastern Ontario on a GIANT POST CARD. I kind of feel like its author could be Betty Draper:

“Dear (two very anglophone names, not repeated here in order to protect privacy):

“Well we made it and are recuperating after four tough days of driving. It is super here & we’re living the life of Reilly. Have been swimming all day & are now drinking Pink Ladies under the palms. Oh me, what a life. I could take this forever.

“I do want to thank you both for the most enjoyable holiday week-end at Muskoka. It was the kind of lazy one I enjoy & it was so nice to get acquainted with your three dear wee ones.

“Haven’t seen much of the stores yet except groceries but they all look very nice.

“Well am off to the poop-deck to watch the kids play in the breakers.

“Many thanks again kids & hope you have a good holiday. My love to you both, the girls & Miss Mooney.

” – (Signed by another very anglo name kept private [by me] for, well, privacy)”

Really, all there is left to say is this: Pink Ladies!

2 thoughts on “A postcard from the past, just before the world changed

  1. Well, I beg to differ! August 1959 was indeed a sophisticated time. It was the day after Gayle’s birthday, (yes we were an item long before then) I was driving a combine for a neighbour and preparing to return to Montreal as a sophisticated sophomore at Macdonald College of McGill University. We thought that we were cutting-edge science students. It was an era when the girls had to be back and checked into their residences by 11:00 each night, with a 12:00 “late” pass on Saturday nights. Meanwhile at Brittain Hall (men’s residence), we came and went at any hour. day or night. You could wander into our residence naked with a case of Labatte’s 50 on your shoulder with nary a care. Can you imagine female students accepting that double standard now?
    The good old days probably were only good because we were young and care free.
    P.S. Was at the college, now Macdonald Campus of McGill U., last weekend for our 50th homecoming. T’was bitter sweet but a heck of a lot of us are still here, bragging about grandkids and proud of our accomplishments in life. I just hope today’s grads can be as proud fifty years hence.

    • That is some good reminiscing, Grant! But I am so sorry that you (and Gayle, I imagine) were here in Montreal last weekend and didn’t look us up! We would have been so pleased to get together at this end of the Montreal-Hastings County line for a change. You must promise to do so the next time you might be in our neighbourhood.

      And no, the young women of today certainly would not tolerate that double standard!

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