Revisiting: Boring Postcards

Revisiting: Boring Postcards

In the Fall/Winter 2005 edition of SCA Road Notes, we published a short book review of Boring Postcards, by photographer Martin Parr. The original review is reposted below. But before taking the short trip back, it would be worth your time to take detour into Parr’s full oeuvre.

Parr (b. 1952) is a British photographer and photo curator, and the author/editor of more than 100 books! As his bio on Magnum Photos says, Parr has an “unmistakable eye for the quirks of ordinary life.” But beware SCAers, Parr is a well of wonder with no bottom!

Parr’s work is viewable widely on thew web and available for licensing from Magnum Photos.
The book reviewed below is printed in color, but the images here are reproduced as presented in the original SCA Road Notes article, from the days of 2-color printing.

— Original Book Review —

HUMDRUM CORRESPONDENCE:
BORING POSTCARDS
POSTCARDS ONLY AN SCA MEMBER COULD ENJOY

By Thomas C. VanDeGrift

Vintage truck stops, diners, bus stations, industrial facilities, and street scenes—what person in their right mind would call these postcards dull? Certainly not me!

The book. Boring Postcards, by Martin Parr is filled with these priceless artifacts that document cultural landscape features such as turnpike interchanges, car washes, restaurants (both exterior and interior views) and even close-up views of the food served. I f these postcard subjects tickle your fancy, you’ll undoubtedly also enjoy the other subjects covered: interior and exterior views of shopping centers and stores, branch banks, airports, college campuses, hospitals, home furnishings, campgrounds/trailer parks, trucks and cars. My favorites include several photos of military bases including the enlisted men’s barracks in Fort Hood, Texas and Brooklyn, New York.

There are many postcards of motels variously featuring the pool, guest rooms and building complex. Two, in particular, stand out as being from the past. The postcard from the Driftwood Motor Lodge in Fayetteville, North Carolina dates from a more formal era. It shows two middle-aged customers sitting poolside, the man in a white shirt and bow-tie, the woman in a blue dress. The next page shows the Kingman TraveLodge in Kingman, Arizona and is obviously from a less-safety conscious era. The poolside customers are wearing appropriate swimwear, but the pool is in the middle of the parking lot with no fence around it and parking spaces only inches from the lounging patrons.

These color postcards date from the 1950s and 1960s and have the original captions. Most are pristine though some show evidence of being sent through the mail. I suspect most of our SCA members would find this book a treat, as I did.

Boring Postcards
(London, UK: Phaidon Press, 2000)
176 pages, $24.95 Hardcover


Did you enjoy this article? Join the SCA and get full access to all the content on this site. This article originally appeared in the SCA Road Notes, Fall-Winter 2005, Vol. 13, No. 3 and 4. SCA Road Notes, also known as SCA News, is a quarterly publication and a member benefit of the Society for Commercial Archeology. Back issues are available for download.

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