Hello from the Lake! ROUND ONE

Original postcards from Buckeye Lake, The Playground of Ohio (only the ones with interesting messages on the back)


10/29/20232 min read

ROUND ONE: Young love in a few sentences

At first, I was interested in the photo albums of old postcards in the archives of the Buckeye Lake Historical Museum for the images. Inevitably, I got sucked into the scribbled messages on the back of them: tiny stories, often barely legible, that bring both the park and people to life.

I want to share some of those in bits and pieces.

These first two are from the very early 1900s (decades before my fictional characters fall in love at the amusement park at Buckeye Lake). When the very real Laura and Cora below posted their cards in the mail, Newark and Buckeye Lake were connected by an Interurban Electric Transit Line that also ran to the lake from Columbus.

According to Donna Braig’s My Buckeye Lake Story, these visitors would have enjoyed a few rides in those early years, including a coaster and Ferris wheel and airplane ride, as well as shooting galleries, ring toss, and a Tunnel of Love on the water. Boat rides were a novelty and very popular (see 8/12 "Cruisin' the Waters" post). According to a 1911 State Board of Public Works Report, the lake boasted 20 hotels, 20 pleasure clubs, five restaurants, and 250 cottages on the banks.

Pictured below are the original postcards visitors could buy at Buckeye Lake stores, and I’ve typed out the actual scrawled messages from the back of two.

Come on, Otto!

Aug. 19, 1907

Addressed to Irene in Newark from Laura

“Dear Irene, we went to the lake and had a fine time, but were sorry that you and Tom could not be with us. I will try to write you a letter soon. Don’t feel sorry for ‘poor me’ - Otto is going to sell his horse and buggy - oh! I see my fate is to be an old maid.”

Kim’s Note: How I wish I also had the letter Laura promised Irene. I’m very open to your interpretation of why the sale of the horse and buggy meant no marriage to Otto. Can he not court her now that he has no transportation? At first, I wondered if Otto might be trading up for an Auto (hee hee). You know, like a Model T, spending any money he might have spent on a home for himself and Laura, shifting his priorities. But Ford’s Model T didn’t roll out of the factory until a year after “poor” Laura penned this postcard. Thoughts?

Ooo La La

Aug. 11, 1909

Addressed to Master Frederick in Newark from Cora

“Hello, sweetheart. Are you coming up to see us and fish? We will be glad to have you any time. Maybe we can find some frogs. Oo la la.”

Kim’s Note: That’s it. There is so much potential for backstory on this postcard. What moments of intrigue have Frederick and Cora known amongst the frogs? What pivotal role have frogs played in their Licking County courtship before she left for Buckeye Lake? There’s a novel begging to be written here.

Stay tuned for Postcard Installment #2: Fish Stories