Postcards from the Past

— A loc­al his­tory group is re­cap­tur­ing price­less im­ages from yes­teryear, with help from the pub­lic.

Rhawn St look­ing west from the Pennsylvania Rail­road trestle at Holmes­burg Junc­tion, circa 1910. On the right is the Amer­ic­an Man­ganese and Bronze Co, es­tab­lished there about this time as was Tor­res­dale Ave. The large house in the far cen­ter may be the old Green Hotel at Dit­man. (Photo cour­tesy of Fred Moore)

 The North­east Phil­adelphia His­tory Net­work is on the verge of pur­chas­ing hun­dreds of cen­tury-old pic­ture post­cards that were col­lec­ted by Bruce Con­ner, a loc­al his­tor­i­an who died two years ago.

Fred Moore and Jack Mc­Carthy, of the loc­al his­tory group, tracked down the items from a deal­er in Lan­caster County. They are only about $1,000 shy of their goal, but a dead­line is loom­ing.

“I knew he was a col­lect­or, but I was stunned at the depth and breadth of his col­lec­tion,” Mc­Carthy said of Con­ner’s batch of pic­ture post­cards and oth­er items.

After Con­ner’s passing, his fam­ily sold the col­lec­tion to “some guy down in South Philly,” Moore said.

Re­cently, an­oth­er Phil­adelphia-area his­tor­ic­al so­ci­ety told the North­east group about see­ing some of Con­ner’s items on eBay.

Moore and Mc­Carthy learned that the col­lec­tion had been resold to Lan­caster-area manuscript deal­er Chris Han­non.

When they asked about buy­ing back the whole col­lec­tion of more than 700 pic­ture post cards, the ask­ing price was $19,000, a sum too steep for the loc­al his­tory group.

The next step was to pick out cer­tain items from the col­lec­tions.

“We went through it with a fine-tooth comb,” Moore said.

Back in the early 1900s, the Sliker fam­ily of Brides­burg op­er­ated a stu­dio pho­to­graphy busi­ness. The fath­er and son team of Wil­li­am and Charles Sliker, on horse­back, would take pho­tos of neigh­bor­hood hap­pen­ings us­ing a Kodak box cam­era, de­vel­op the im­ages as post­cards and sell them to the people pic­tured.

The post­cards also fea­tured roads, bridges, build­ings and land­scapes.

Con­ner, a Bustleton res­id­ent who died in March 2011 after suf­fer­ing in­jur­ies in a car ac­ci­dent, likely bought them on eBay and at card and trade shows.

Now, Moore and Mc­Carthy are try­ing to get them back. In look­ing at the full col­lec­tion, they saw some du­plic­ates, pic­tures from sim­il­ar angles and oth­ers that were out­side the North­east.

While a couple of dozen ori­gin­als were sold since Con­ner’s death, the bulk of the col­lec­tion is in­tact.

In the end, Moore and Mc­Carthy iden­ti­fied 341 post­cards they’d like to buy.

“It’s every neigh­bor­hood in the North­east, from Frank­ford to Tor­res­dale and Lawndale to Somer­ton,” said Mc­Carthy, a cer­ti­fied arch­iv­ist and archiv­al/his­tor­ic­al con­sult­ant.

The ask­ing price is $5,500, along with some items that Con­ner’s fam­ily donated to as­sist in the sale pro­cess.

The North­east Phil­adelphia His­tory Net­work, foun­ded in 2007 by Mc­Carthy and the now-de­ceased Harry Sil­cox, meets the first Wed­nes­day of the month and has an e-mail list of about 200 people.

In the last few weeks, the group has sought small tax-de­duct­ible dona­tions from sup­port­ers. The re­sponse has been pos­it­ive. Already, $4,500 has been raised to buy the col­lec­tion.

“It’s a grass­roots ef­fort,” Mc­Carthy said. “Every­body wants to pitch in.”

“It warms your heart,” Moore said.

Han­non is also im­pressed with the re­sponse. He has already giv­en the cards to Moore and Mc­Carthy, an­ti­cip­at­ing fi­nal pay­ment.

“They’re bend­ing over back­wards. We’re very for­tu­nate that we tracked it down, and these people are easy to work with,” Moore said.

For now, the post­cards are in two shoe­boxes at Moore’s home. They will be pre­served at the His­tor­ic­al So­ci­ety of Ta­cony.

The post­cards will also be scanned and dis­trib­uted to donors.

Dona­tions are go­ing in­to the bank ac­count of the Friends of Lower Dub­lin Academy, a non-profit or­gan­iz­a­tion foun­ded by Con­ner that, Mc­Carthy said, was “near and dear to his heart.”

Each per­son donat­ing $100 will re­ceive high-res­ol­u­tion im­ages of the col­lec­tion in CD and DVD format.

Any­one who donates $50 will be entered in­to a draw­ing to win a free one-night stay at the Times House Bed and Break­fast in his­tor­ic Jim Thorpe. The B&B is owned by Di­ane and Chris Prokop. Di­ane is a former North­east Times re­port­er and friend of the North­east Phil­adelphia His­tory Net­work.

Dona­tions must be sent by Feb. 6.

“Every­body is pulling to­geth­er like fam­ily, like Bruce was draw­ing us to­geth­er when he was alive,” Moore said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

Get in­volved …

Checks can be sent to Friends of Lower Dub­lin Academy, c/o Fred Moore, 2557 Man­sion Road, Hunt­ing­don Val­ley, PA 19006.

For more in­form­a­tion, con­tact Jack Mc­Carthy at 215-824-1636 or jack­s­notes88@ve­r­i­ or vis­it ht­tp://lower­dub­lin­ 

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