STORY AND PHOTOS BY GIL POTTS
It was only a few short years ago printing industry officials predicted the eminent demise of Americaâ€™s favorite souvenir item, the postcard. It was said that the evolution of cell phone cameras, the internet and digital cameras would spell doom to a once prominent faction of the industry.
But, even in this modern era of email, Twitter, and Facebook it appears the old fashion tradition of mailing postcards is alive and well. And as of this week, Van Horn is once again marking its place in pictorial history with a series of current day full color photo postcards sanctioned by the Clark Hotel Historical Museum, and published by visiting photographer Gil Potts.
Are you asking yourself what is so historically significant about publishing a new postcard? Well, in Van Horn, itâ€™s been better than 50 years since a postcard publisher has produced a set of postcards specifically for Van Horn, aside from a few hotel specific cards that were not necessarily available to the public through local merchants.
Although the concept of postcards dates back to the late 1870â€™s, it wasnâ€™t until possibly the 1920â€™s that the picture postcard really gained popularity.
It was the combined advent of new printing methods, as well as very inexpensive papers and inks that allowed for the mass reproduction of color images. They were printed on a heavy linen textured media featuring brightly colored photos and graphics, a process that remained popular through the 1950s and 1960s.
There was one other important contributing factor to the growing widespread popularity of the postcard. The automobile. As more and more folks made the transition from saddle to driverâ€™s seat, overnight travel adventures became more common place, and the sales of picture card souvenirs soared.
And thatâ€™s an important factor to the sustenance of the town of Van Horn. The automobile (not the postcard) is the squeaky wheel the town revolves and (evolves) around.
Itâ€™s responsible for the local motels, the restaurants, the repair shops, the jobs and oh yes, the postcards that now represent this wonderful little town. Iâ€™ll bet you didnâ€™t think the question of historical significance of the postcard would end up in the back seat of a Chevrolet, now did you? But the association is easy. More cars going through town equals more people eating at the restaurants, staying in the motels, buying more postcards and thus, supporting the growth of the local economy. It all adds up if think about it.
Today, there is a nationwide resurgence in the sale of common 4â€ x 6â€ souvenir postcards, firmly placing them in the number one selling position of souvenir items in America. And now, the residents and visitors to Van Horn have six exciting new ways to tell the world about what a beautiful little town this is, at the crossroads of the Texas Mountain Trail. So, stop by the Clark Hotel Historic Museum and buy a postcard or two, and learn another interesting little bit of local history or, just ask your favorite local merchant for the new Van Horn postcards.