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Which one’s R. Melrose?

I hope you had lovely – or at least survivable – Christmases and that you’ve come out the other side refreshed.

I went to uni with someone who said that Tuesday was always the worst day of the week, and today has definitely been a Tuesday-ish Tuesday. I seemed to spend a lot of time doing a lot to achieve not very much at all, which was probably because I was doing something website-related. Websites are great until they don’t work. To try to pep up my motivation, I’m doing something fun – this post – before getting my head clear about what should be on my work to-do list and what needs done when.

Before Christmas, I attended the latest Spoonful of Vintage fair and, for the first time, bought something. Surprise, surprise, it was two postcards. I still can’t decide whether I paid over the odds. I think I possibly did, but the cards so clearly have good stories behind them that it’s hard to feel aggrieved. You’ll see what I mean – here’s the first:


First postcard from Spoonful of Vintage

Postcard message

Message on first postcard

Almost a novel here! Here’s my attempt at a transcription:

Dear Jeannie Thank for your PC [postcard] sorry I have been so long in answering it but never mind Jeannie I will forget you not (come over here) I had a PC from bridget she was asking for wooden logs very considerate of her well Jeannie I am leaving Peebles in a fort-night but I have not got a job yet I will try and get one in Edin. [Edinburgh] beside you wouldn’t it be ripping Peebles is horrible in fact worse than terrible just now cant get a girl at all hard times I call it, now ganny [?] see if you know everybody here look well for me. I think you might send me a Photo of yourself Jeannie I am dying to see your sweet little face again tell Miss Stuart I was asking for her give her my second best love and keep my best yourself, now Jeannie I hope this finds you still enjoying life Tweed-side misses you now good night and write soon love from R Melrose

R. Melrose certainly had a crush on Jeannie but, to be honest, it sounds like he would take anything offered to him – or he was trying to make Jeannie jealous. From the tone of his writing, he’s certainly young, but I wish there was a clue as to which of the young men on the postcard he was. Peebles is a small town in the Scottish Borders which is actually quite pleasant, although maybe not what a young man looking for adventure had in mind.

The dress of everyone pictured on the card dates it to early in the twentieth century, so in the hope we could learn a bit more about our writer, I’ve done a quick search of the 1911 Scottish census. Melrose is seemingly a common surname in Peebles, and four entries for ‘R Melrose’ have come up, two of which seem to fit the likely age and marital status of the writer:

  • Robert Melrose, aged 17 and born in Yarrow, Selkirkshire, a boarder at Hay Lodge Stables and apprentice butcher
  • Robert A.G. Melrose, aged 15 and born in Broughton, Peeblesshire, son of Andrew and Margaret Melrose living with them at 17 Elcho Street, law apprentice and part-time student

From the stream-of-consciousness writing style, my hunch is that the apprentice butcher is our author, but that is making a pretty sweeping generalisation about butchers (and law apprentices).

Here’s my second purchase:

Picture of young children in the very early twentieth century

It’s not really a postcard, now I look at it – just a regular, mounted photo – and the image is faint, but I couldn’t leave all of those glum faces behind at the bottom of the box. I have no information about it whatsoever, but I think it’s interesting enough to look at in its own right. (Spotted the smiler, yet?)

In my next post or two, I’ll get onto the 1960s of my main postcard collection.


About SarahAnderson

I love old stuff and like to write.

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