Rockland Historical Society’s Postcard & Ephemera Show

Oh, the stories a postcard can tell

From a cigar box stolen from Fidel Castro’s desk to a postcard making fun of a friend
Tue, 09/25/2018 - 8:15am

    ROCKLAND— “Do you remember the time we went went fishing up above the dam and you fell down in the mud.” —Fred.

    Old Fred must have had a good laugh at his friend’s expense at that one. Written in spindly script underneath a black and white postcard of the Ducktrap Dam in Lincolnville, this was but one of thousands of postcards on display at the annual Rockland Historical Society’s Postcard & Ephemera Show.
    Many just featured vintage photos of Maine locations, but this one, like many personalized postcards, brought the scene to life. In this undated postcard, likely at the turn of the century, Fred and his friend probably spent a day at the dam with their rods and reels and fishing creels, wading in until his friend lost his footing and fell into the mud. There was likely a lot of laughter at the friend’s expense that day. Later, Fred found an opportunity to goose his friend once again and sent that postcard with that dry little remark.
    Out of thousands of old postcards on display, this black and white photograph told a story of more than just an image; a relationship. Diane O’Brien’s 2015 column on another vintage photo of the Ducktrap dam brought more of this type of story to life. The dealer, Dan Moulton, of Freeport, said, “It’s not just nostalgia; it’s peeking into the past of someone’s life.”
    The Rockland Historical Society’s annual fundraising event held Saturday, September 22, at the Rockland Congregational Church featured old postcards, old maps, old advertisements, old magazines, books about local history, and other old and curious things.
    Capt. Dave Sulin commanded the adjoining room of  “Old and Curious Things” with a yard sale of vintage items such as old vases, player piano scrolls, vintage Christmas decorations, magazines, vintage cigar boxes, baskets, and toys.
    Soulin had built-in stories listed with several of the items, including a $1 cigar box advertised with the following: “This cigar box may have been taken from the desk of Fidel Castro by then Lieut. Dave Sulin, USN during a secret mission authorized by Richard M. Nixon.”
    “During a secret mission authorized by President Richard M. Nixon, everything was done at dusk before night vision goggles,” he said. “It is possible during the confusion, where I could grab what I could grab, that this cigar box was taken off this desk. It can’t be confirmed.”
    Sulin, ever the persuasive vendor, picked up a vase, also for $1.
    “This one right here; it can’t be confirmed but in an episode of Antiques Road Show, something similar to this was sold for $1,500,” he said. “Here at the Rockland Historical Society sale, you can save $1,499 and get this one for a dollar.”
    As for the Leonardo DiCaprio collection on one table, listing a “$15,000 or best offer” Hope Diamond, Sulin said, “That’s negotiable.”
    When asked, “You sure you got that from the bottom of the ocean? That’s the Heart of the Ocean.”
    “I know,” he replied. “I’ve been there.”
    In the other room, more than 10 vendors of postcards and ephemera from all over the state had thousands of postcards on display, all tucked into boxes and old library metal drawers in alphabetical order or in order of subject matter.
    Mike Blood, who is officially known as “The Postcard Dude” had two tables of postcards. “Most of the postcards were printed in the 1900s to the 1930s and ‘40s,” he said. “And everybody hung onto them; people collected them and after they passed on, their collections were sold at auctions, where collectors like myself would buy them. There are still millions of these postcards floating around.”
    Pete Vosse, another dealer from Lewiston, said he owned nearly a half million postcards.  He probably had nearly a thousand in his Maine collection at the tables. Asked where he keeps them all, he joked, “Don’t ask my wife. They’re everywhere in the house.”
    Most people who go to shows like this want to see postcards from their home towns, or else other vintage ephemera that’s personal. Vendor Pattie and John Vierra had a collection of vintage political buttons for sale. “We just had a woman buy several whose logos she identified as her father’s designs,” said Pattie Vierra. “She recognized his work right away.”
    With only a modest $3 entry fee, the show was affordable to all. Anne Morris, the Curator, Rockland Historical Society said, “This is our only fundraiser, and every year we just clear around $1,000.”
    Related: Ever wonder where vintage postcards of Maine came from?

    Kay Stephens can be reached at