by Dave Price.
Recently, while looking for Nashville post cards on eBay, I discovered the listing of four 1907 issues of a small journal called The Southern Post Card Magazine, published in Nashville. I was the sole bidder.
My first issue is dated February 1907 and is also styled “Vol. 2, No. 3.” We find that the magazine was published monthly by the Jolly Jokers’ Club, described as a “purely social club” chartered by the State of Tennessee and open to “any reliable white person who agrees to return all favors shown.” This last statement means that members (except the Secretary, who was “far too busy”) were expected to send a card back to any member sending him or her a card.
Membership dues, including a subscription to the magazine, were $1.00 per year. Five complaints of a member’s not returning favors could result in suspension. In sending “joke cards,” nothing but a high grade of wit would be tolerated.
Another fascinating rule was that, once a member’s collection was complete, his or her name would be printed in the “Post Card Collection Complete” column, and the member was no longer obligated to participate in the exchange of favors. Note: I have been collecting one thing and another since 1947 and have never heard a collector describe any kind of collection as “complete.” This comment notwithstanding, I find two local members listed as having complete collections: JJ #1057, Nurse Viola M. Hughes of 311 First Avenue South, and JJ #1650, Sadie Dozier of West Nashville.
The Secretary at the time of this issue was JJ #5, Miss Lena Haralson of 1009 Lischey Avenue, Nashville. This address was also listed as the office of the Jolly Jokers’ Club. We have discovered that Lena was then residing with Lucinda (widow of John) Haralson, who was probably Lena’s mother. The Translator, JJ #8, was Thruston Johnson of Oregon, Illinois.
We suspect the magazine was printed by Star Supply Company (also called Star Exchange), 17 Bruce Building, 164 Fourth Avenue North, Nashville, as the February issue features this firm in a handsome half-page ad for Nashville Post Cards . . . and Lena Haralson worked there as a stenographer. This edition lists the names and numbers of new “JJ” members from #2129 through #2441, an impressive increase.
My second issue, despite the “published monthly” notation, is for March-April 1907 and “Vol. 2, No. 4.” This issue features a lengthy “Jolly Jokers’ Code” and reprimands various members for such violations as failing to return favors or sending duplicate cards. One gripe simply says, “I am sorry to say that your cards are not suitable . . . if you cannot procure better ones, I wish to discontinue exchanging.”
This issue lists the same Secretary and Translator (Miss Haralson and Mr. Johnson). Also listed are new members #2442 through #2769 – another nice increase! One Nashville joiner was JJ #2448 Frank Purtee, who gave the L&N railroad shops as his address. We also see here an ad for cards featuring Evelyn Nesbit, whose name may be familiar to older readers.
We skip down to the fall for our next issue, “Vol. 3, No. 4,” published in October 1907. This issue calls the JJs the “largest social and exchange club in the world.” By now Lena Haralson preferred the name “Mrs. Helena Haralson Johnson” and gave her address as 1208 Stainback Avenue. Coincidentally, our Translator, Thruston Johnson, had moved to Nashville and was also dwelling at 1208 Stainback. (Be still, my heart!) For club business, however, the couple had rented Post Office Box 144.
New members this month included numbers #3829 through #4037. One’s mind is boggled by these figures when we read ads from members wanting to exchange with “all members.” This month’s Star Supply ad specifies “Tuck’s Cards.”
JJ #860 Elijah L. Kepler, manager of the Duncan Dorris Photo Shop at 25 Arcade, Nashville (boards 2417 West End), had started a “Query Box” in the magazine and thereafter would respond to questions submitted. By October another Nashville firm had also started running ads: Nashville Photo Engraving of 306½ Third Avenue north.
My final issue is dated November 1907 and “Vol. 3, No. 5.” A new membership directory was planned and all members could have their photographs included by sending in $1.50. The feature story has to do with the upcoming election of officers. Friend Kepler had announced for the presidency, and Helena and Thruston were seeking re-election, along with many other candidates. Kepler took out an ad featuring his portrait, along with the redundant advice that he was “eager to please each jolly JJ.” One candidate for Vice President, JJ #933 Edith Fadeley of Cape May, New Jersey, announced that if elected she would smile at every JJ who came her way and twice at the jolly old bachelors and widowers.
A candidate for Secretary, JJ #2491 Lillian M. Hahn of Attica, New York, ran an intriguing ad. Lillian explained that Lena didn’t really want the job back and had encouraged her to “go in and win.” Alas, we have not seen any later issues, so we don’t know whether Nashville retained its strength in the election of officers for 1908. (2006)