Friday, May 23, 2008

Van's Cafe, Brainerd, Minnesota

Another popular Brainerd postcard subject was Van's Cafe. This postcard dates from 1950. A similar view, differently colored, is available as an art print from Internet poster sellers.

Description from the back of the card:

Located in BRAINERD, MINN., opposite the Tourist Information Tower on Highways 371 and 210 is
newly streamlined, remodeled and air-conditioned
Folks drive miles for VAN'S "Sizzling" steaks, fried chicken, home made chow mein, barbecued ribs and delicious TURKEY DINNERS served daily.

Van's Cafe was started in 1923 and was owned by Van Essens.

Brainerd Water Tower

The Brainerd, Minnesota water tower was built from 1919 to 1922. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first all-concrete elevated tank used by a municipality in the United States.

A Look At Water Towers, an article on Minnesota water towers, notes that for many communities, a water tower is a part of its identity. This Brainerd water tower has not been used since 1960, but it remains as an attraction and symbol of the city of Brainerd.

Paul Bunyan is another attraction and symbol of Brainerd, and the water tower has become associated with Paul Bunyan in several ways — as his knife handle, his golf tee, his flash light, and his hitching post for Babe.

The Crow Wing Historical Society has historical photos of the construction of the Brainerd, Minnesota water tower.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Singer Sewing Machine Factory--Bridgeport, Connecticut

This postcard is the standard height of 3½ inches but is double width—11 inches. It was meant to be folded in half before mailing. Although unusual and uncommon, this size is usually ignored by postcard collectors.

When examining this card, I was intrigued by the fine print on the sides of the buildings. The buildings are named Wheeler & Wilson Sewing Machines, not Singer. Wheeler and Wilson was founded in 1851 and moved in 1856 to Bridgeport, Connecticut. In the 1850s and 1860s Wheeler and Wilson sewing machines were the most popular. Eventually Singer sewing machines became more popular, and Singer bought out Wheeler and Wilson in 1905. Singer company history dates the opening of their Bridgeport factory as 1907.

An interesting account of early sewing machine manufacturing history is found on the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society (ISMACS) website. There is reproduced information and pictures from a 1873 tour of the Wheeler and Wilson Sewing Machine factory by a reporter. At that time the factory employed 6,000-7,000 in various capacities. The pictures are excellent views of workers at work with the manufacturing machines used at different stages of the manufacturing process.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Minnesota Centennial Postcard & Stamp

Minnesota celebrated its Statehood Centennial 50 years ago in 1958. This postcard was published by the Minneapolis Post Card Club. On the back is the stamp commemorating Minnesota Statehood and a First Day of Issue cancellation on May 11, 1958.

In 2008 Minnesota is celebrating it Sesquicentennial. A stamp celebrating Minnesota's 150th anniversary as the 32nd state will be issued on Saturday May 17. A first-day-of-issue ceremony will be part of Statehood Weekend Festival scheduled for May 17 to 18 on the State Capitol grounds in St. Paul.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Willie the Walleye Statue

Willie the Walleye is located in Baudette, Minnesota. The statue weighs 9,852 pounds, is 40 feet 4 inches long and has a girth of 21 feet 4 inches. This statue was constructed in 1959 and is the largest of the big walleye statues.

Baudette is located on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River in northern Minnesota. Baudette claims to be the "Walleye Capital of the World," but a number of other towns both in Minnesota and other states have claimed the same title. Lake of the Woods Tourism officials in Baudette recently were able to obtain the Minnesota trademark to this title. They have apparently abandoned an effort to obtain a national trademark. Baudette has an annual "Willie Walleye Days" festival in early June.

The walleye is the Minnesota state fish. The 2008 Minnesota walleye season opens May 10. According to the Minnesota state DNR website

The walleye is the most sought-after fish in Minnesota. Its thick, white fillets, handsome shape and coloring, and elusive nature make it the ultimate prize among anglers. Each year, anglers in Minnesota keep roughly 3.5 million walleyes totaling 4 million pounds. The average walleye caught and kept is about 14 inches long and weighs slightly more than 1 pound. The walleye is named for its pearlescent eye, which is caused by a reflective layer of pigment, called the tapetum lucidum, that helps it see and feed at night or in murky water.

For more on the "Walleye Capital" controversy see Walleyed War of the Walleye Capitals.

Albany Tulip Festival

This undated postcard shows a scene from Albany, New York's Annual Tulip Festival where "Colorful pageantry and entertainment mark the festivities preceding the selection and crowning of the new Tulip Queen."

The 2008 Albany Tulip Festival runs from May 9 to May 11. This is the 6oth anniversary of the festival which was created after the tulip became Albany's official flower in 1948. Over 200,000 tulips are planted in the fall before the festival. The tulips bloom throughout Albany in the parks, street islands, and in front of public buildings.

The Tulip Festival celebrates Albany's Dutch heritage. Events include entertainment, arts and crafts shows, food vendors, and the crowning of a Tulip Queen.
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