- Amanda Kirton
- BBC News reporter
In 2020, when the new crown virus is raging around the world and the UK is shutting down the city to fight the epidemic, Stu Prince, who has just finished chemotherapy, is still in the recovery stage, but he has found a new goal for himself: auction for him from the Internet. The old postcards that came to find their home.
One of them, when delivered to the recipient, he helped open the door of memory that had been closed for decades.
The postcard was sent in 1946, one year after the end of World War II. Although it is a long time ago, the colorful postcards are still bright and bright. On the front is a picture of a sleeping bunny in the cradle, and the upper right corner is printed: today you are one year old.
The stamp on the back of the postcard is the head of George V, and the postmark on the postcard shows that the postcard was sent on September 27, 1946. The address bar of the recipient reads: 12 North Sumberland Building, Luxembourg Street, London Post code: W1.
The recipient is: Miss F. Kay.
There was a neat line written on the postcard: To our lovely little granddaughter. I hope you have a happy birthday. I wish happiness and peace in the future!
Stu Prince is 62 years old and lives with his wife Kim in the town of Crewe, Cheshire, south of Manchester City in central England. Since he started collecting postcards from auction sites, he has accumulated thousands of them. But this postcard made him feel special.
So he opened a page on Facebook, posted a picture of the postcard, and asked if anyone could help the postcard return to the owner who was only one year old. He was not so much expecting results at the time as he was holding a glimmer of hope. Then he didn’t think about it anymore.
But soon after, he received a message: “I found this kid.”
In 2019, Situ was diagnosed with leukemia. He said: “That is to do high-dose chemotherapy.” He didn’t know whether the treatment was effective, and he didn’t expect that chemotherapy would have such a side effect and consume so much energy.
Before he became ill, he could walk eight kilometers a day. Since retiring, he has been enthusiastic about affairs in the community, arranging to organize carnivals in the town and so on. But the chemotherapy made him exhausted, and he didn’t have the strength to stand up while sitting on the sofa at home. In March 2020, the UK began its first round of isolation. Stu must be strictly isolated from the outside world at home because of his physical condition.
He knew he needed to distract his attention and do something that didn’t require physical strength but kept him busy. One day, while browsing old letters and items for sale on the Internet, he found a pile of old postcards on eBay. The earliest postcards were from 1900.
He said, “I think these are amazing. They come in various forms, and they are all left by someone’s ancestors.” Some postcards function like modern people’s mobile phone text messages, such as thanking the host for Sunday dinner or Let relatives know they will pass by the next day. More often, postcards express the affection between relatives and friends.
Stu has always been interested in genealogy, so he had an idea: why not find the owners of these postcards and their relatives, and let the postcards return to their original owners?
He said: “My family has handed down very few things to me, only a few photos. I think if I do this for others, I can’t imagine how they will feel.”
“These postcards can give you a deeper understanding of your loved ones, don’t they? Compared with those cold census data, we should know much more and deeper things from such a postcard.”
In this way, Stu established a group called “Postcards for Family Reunion” on Facebook, and started taking pictures of postcards and sending them out, six at a time.
Soon, this page has accumulated a number of fans. At first, people would “like” this page, paying attention to whether any postcards he posted were related to them.
Soon, Stu’s family collected more than 2,000 postcards. He said: “There are thousands of postcards on various auction websites, all with addresses and names.”
But finding the owner of these postcards is a very heavy task for him.
Stu said: “I don’t even have the strength to walk to the bright window to take pictures of postcards. In the early days, I myself needed someone to take care of it.”
However, Stu was lucky. In the fan team on his Facebook page, a small team of volunteers volunteered to help him.
He said: “These people in charge of research have shared a lot of work for me. I am very grateful for that. I can do it with these helpers.”
Christina Barrett, 70, was a former Royal Chartered Accountant. She lives in Bushey, Hertfordshire, and now she spends a lot of time singing and participating in amateur performances. Family tree has been a hobby of her for the past 20 years, so when she accidentally saw Stu’s Facebook page, she immediately paid special attention.
A few years ago, an unknown stranger suddenly contacted her and said that one of the postcards in their private collection was sent to her mother by her late father in the 1980s.
She said: “I didn’t expect that someone would work so hard to find my contact information and email me to let me know about it. When I got this postcard, I really felt it was too precious.”
“I know how I feel, and I think this is my starting point and motivation to help others. That feeling is why I am willing to spend time looking for the descendants of the postcard recipient.”
Christina said that she must resist the temptation to not delve into every postcard she found. She tried to focus on the postcards that should not be too difficult to find the owner. Usually the names on these postcards are very special and the addresses are clear.
Then, she went to find the census records, as well as birth and marriage registration. She said these are important sources of information, and the British Library is another important source of information, where there are digital editions of local newspapers.
“The daily column in the local newspaper is to record births, marriages, deaths, weddings and funerals, telling you who attended the wedding, what is the relationship between them, and maybe even what they do. These are what the local newspapers like to publish. thing.”
She said: “Now, you won’t see this anymore. This is a loss for the local newspaper, and perhaps a loss for future historians, because this type of record will never appear again. “
However, Christina was not the only one who helped Stu find someone related to the postcard.
There are often hundreds of replies under each postcard that Stu posts on Facebook. He said: “It gives people the feeling that the community is more prosperous, and people support each other.”
Stu said that he has about six volunteers who are very active in helping, and there are more new enthusiasts. He estimates that since he opened his Facebook page in 2020, hundreds of postcards have found their homes.
Every time I find the recipient of the postcard, the result is very satisfying.
Stu first contacted a volunteer who helped with the research and said that she had found Miss F. Kaye from London, the one-year-old baby whom the postcard was sent to in 1946; Stu received another email shortly afterwards. , It said: “That postcard is for me, and I am the baby.”
Flimet Carr, formerly named Kay. When she saw this postcard, her face was full of smiles. The postcard was wrapped in plastic by Stu and sandwiched in the middle of the cardboard, looking like new.
Before the London lockdown, 75-year-old Flimet lived in the Eggville area of North London. Every week she plays bridge with her husband and friends, and many old friends around her often get together.
During the epidemic, she had to face the cruel reality that her old friends died one after another. During the lockdown period, the number of funerals was limited, and she could not even attend the funerals of many old friends.
It was in such sadness that she received good news. “I received a text message from my daughter-in-law saying that someone had contacted her and asked if she knew me.”
The contact person is the volunteer helper of Stu’s Facebook page. The volunteer said that once it was confirmed that F on the postcard was Flimet, it would be easier to find it, because this name is rare in the UK. They told her that Stu had a postcard sent to her.
She said, “This is amazing.”
This postcard was sent by her grandparents. At that time, she lived with her parents at her grandparents’ home.
Flimet’s grandparents were Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, and they could not write English. Flimet could tell that grandparents must have asked someone for help to write such a postcard. “Obviously my aunt wrote it, and I know her handwriting very well.”
This postcard awakens the memory of a distant time. Flimett’s grandparents passed away about 50 years ago.
Flimet recalled: “My grandmother was very skilled in cooking. I remember she was always busy at the stove. She could put three dishes on the dinner table with the skill of others making a cup of tea.”
“My grandma is more like a lady and noblewoman. She is more educated and smarter, but she doesn’t know how to cook at all. Grandma’s home is much richer, and the two families are quite different.”
Flimett wanted to know how this postcard came to the online auction from her family. She remembers that when her grandparents died, she helped clean their house.
“We were thinking about whether or not to keep this, but I don’t remember any of these things in her house. It’s amazing, this postcard is like passing through time.”
I found that this postcard is more meaningful to her because she has very little record of her family history.
She said: “I can’t even check their genealogy. They are from Eastern Europe, but many of the records there have been erased.”
She told the younger generation to take advantage of the older relatives to ask more about their previous stories.
Stu is still recovering, he said that his physical strength is gradually recovering. He is particularly proud of this achievement on the Facebook page.
He said: “I just want to do something. Someone will join in and do it together. I am very grateful for that and thank them for supporting me.”
He said: “This is also part of my physical recovery, really, it makes me feel useful. For anyone recovering from leukemia or cancer, it is important to feel useful. I don’t know how to describe this important. Sex is good.”
“I’m in a great mood. I feel that I am amazing. I have done very good things and very valuable things from the predicament. I feel very good about this. I feel very good about myself. This is a long time. For the first time since.”