Road Trip, 1932

There’s a new carnival in town – A Festival of Postcards.  This carnival will be a bit more challenging than the others I participate in, because I do not have a large collection of postcards – and very few related to genealogy!  But half the fun is the challenge itself, and I was delighted to find one for the inaugural edition of the festival.  The theme is Wheels.  Here’s a postcard I must have received with some photographs from my great-aunt:

Wallace's Garage in Salem, IL circa 1932; photo by Benke

Wallace's Garage in Salem, IL circa 1932; photo by Benke

This is a nice “vintage” shot of a gas station (was it called “filling station” back then?) called the Wallace Garage in Salem, IL.  If you click on the photo for a close-up view, you will see that the garage is a Texaco station that does general repairs.  They’re an official AAA station, they use Havoline engine oil, and – best of all – a sign in front advertises “modern sleeping rooms.”  It may look a little different than today’s gas stations, especially the cars to the right in the photo.  But, some things never change – just notice the woman trying to get the hose to reach to the other side of her car while the attendant seems to just be standing there watching her fumble with it.

The photographer is noted as “Benke” – apparently this was a Fred A. Benke.  He was called “Salem’s well-known photographer” by this Salem historical site, but I wish he was just a bit more well-known so I could find out more about him!

The reverse of the postcard:

Stanley dropping a line to his parents

Stanley dropping a line to his parents

It is not postmarked in Salem, Illinois but in Odessa, Texas at 7 PM on August 24, 1932.  It was mailed using a 1 cent stamp to Mr. J. Zawodny, 2512 E. Indiana Ave, Phila. Pa.  (same address as the 1930 census).  The note reads: “Well folks were making good time going to Mexico tomorrow.  Stan.”

The recipients of the postcard are my great-grandparents, Joseph and Laura Zawodny (although it’s addressed to Joseph, the note does say “folks”).  My logical assumption is that the  sender is their son, Stanley, who would have been 23 years old at the time.  My first thought was that perhaps this was a road-trip honeymoon; however, Stanley did not get married until 1934 (to Elizabeth Tiernan of Philadelphia, PA, the sister of his brother-in-law John).  I have no idea why Stan was traveling to Mexico in 1923, but hopefully he had a good time!  At least he was a thoughtful son to drop a line to his parents on the journey.

[Written for A Festival of Postcards: Wheels]

11 thoughts on “Road Trip, 1932

  1. I don’t know whether you have a quantity of postcards but you certainly have quality!
    This postcard is my favourite type – it shows a lot of detail and gives us a little peek into long-ago life.
    I also have to confess that black/white and sepia cards are my favourites.
    Thank you for participating in the Festival.

  2. Pingback: A Festival of Postcards (Premiere Edition) Wheels « A Canadian Family

  3. Donner:

    Could this be the same group traveling in your “Who Do You Think They Are” Smile submission?

    Was this garage formerly the Broadway or on Broadway?

    I smell a mystery.


  4. Pingback: A Festival of Postcards (Premiere Issue) Wheels – May 2009 « A Canadian Family

  5. Absolutely the best kind of postcard! Think it must be a precursor to the modern-day truck stops with all their showers and rooms for the tired trucker? I love the old-fashioned wrecker parked to the right of the store. But my favorite is the young fellow watching the lady fumble with the gas hose. Doesn’t he look like he’s smirking??

  6. That isn’t a GAS hose the woman is pulling, Gas in the radiator?? it’s a WATER hose. She is about to add water to the car’s radiator–as used to be common. Note that the hose on the gas pump is not extended. The hose she is using comes from the column between the pumps. The man may not be helpful because water was free!

    What do you want to know about Fred Benke? I remember him well and used to buy camera supplies from him.

    An old Salem kid.

  7. I had the pleasure of knowing Fred Benke as I grew up. As a baby my parents lived over his store. As Fred set up different backdrops to test I was often the subject in the portrait until we moved at about the age of one.

    Up until his death my parents remained good friends of Fred Benke.

  8. Fred Benke was my great-uncle – I remember a visit to his studio when our family had traveled to Illinois to see my grandparents –

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