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A Postcard History of Norfolk County Pays Tribute to Author's Late Son

Dec 01, 2014 06:00AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman

Shown L-R: Paul, Leah & Eleanor Tedesco

A Postcard History of Norfolk County offers a delightfully quirky look at one county in Massachusetts, of which Bellingham is a part. It provides a peek into yesteryear in a manner that many other efforts to capture the past fail to achieve.

Paul H. Tedesco, with his son, James B. Tedesco, had assembled and annotated the collection. The father, Paul, explained recently at a presentation at the Bellingham Library that he is a business and economic historian. He said that finishing and sharing the book is a way of keeping alive the memory of his son James, who died suddenly before the book was completed. Tedesco’s wife Eleanor said, “Our son Jim was working on the book, quite healthy, sitting at his computer, when he just died. I edited the book and found a publisher. Sharing the book is our way of keeping alive what our son cared about.”

Tedesco explained that businesses often sold the postcards depicted in the book as a way to promote their communities. “We invited each town in the county to participate, and they all did,” he said.

The audience that had gathered in the library’s community room enjoyed Tedesco’s slide show of postcards paired with intriguing stories. He offered the story of some town seals, including Bellingham’s. “Any idea what’s wrong in this picture?” Tedesco asked as he projected Bellingham’s town seal on the screen.

Audience members quickly picked up on the fact that Bellingham’s town seal includes a cupola on top of the tower at the front of the town hall, which is prominent in the town seal. It turns out that the addition to the tower was planned, but obviously never added. The proposed addition remains on our town seal to this day, whether many of us have noticed it or not.

Tedesco shared picture postcards of King Philip’s Ballroom, clearly taken in the 1940s, indicated by the clothes the dancers were wearing. He had a postcard of the diving horses, which were a big attraction at Silver Lake in its heyday. Trolley cars driving through the streets of Norwood gave us a very different view of that nearby town, all portrayed through postcards produced in days gone by.

“My mother used to use postcards,” Tedesco noted. “It’s how people communicated. Postcards were used to create imagery for each community.” Many of us still purchase postcards when we travel, sending photos back home of tourist areas we visit. Often these postcards provide better photos than we are able to take ourselves.

“When I came to Bellingham, [the late] Ernie Taft went down into the Historical Society basement looking for postcards for us for this project,” Tedesco said. “A trip we thought would be short ended up taking four hours, and it was worth it!”

What is notable about the postcards in the book is that they depict a style of postcard that no longer exists. Many are drawings, heralding the virtues of specific towns in the county. Surely we continue to take pride in our communities, but that pride manifests in rather different ways these days.

Tedesco suggested that towns might revisit the idea of selling postcards—perhaps as a fundraising idea for the historical society. A delightful look into years gone by, this book is a tool that can draw all ages into an enjoyment and appreciation of the past.




Bellingham Stuff


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