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Humble postcards traces old Warren

By   /   October 24, 2013  /   1 Comment

This early 20th century postcard shows Main Street, lined with elms, looking south from the George Hail Library.

This early 20th century postcard shows Main Street, lined with elms, looking south from the George Hail Library.

In the days before cameras were cheap and readily available, postcards were one of the most popular ways to send a loved one a snapshot of a new area or a vacation spot. Warren was no exception and over the years, mostly during the first decade or two of the 20th century, hundreds of the humble cards were printed. Some went just a few towns over, and others traveled the globe. 

A few of them eventually made it into the collection of the  Massasoit Historical Association and next Monday, Nov. 4, the association’s John Chaney will show host “Warren by Postcard,” a program dedicated to them at the George Hail Library. It starts at 7 p.m, and it’s free.

“The drug stores in town carried them,” said Mr. Chaney. “It’s always interesting to read the backs.”

The association’s collection of postcards totals into the hundreds and ranges from street scenes to the Town Common to life on the water — the Kickemuit River, Warren River and the like. Even the waterworks, the forerunner of the Bristol County Water Authority, got a postcard.

Churches were big too, as was Warren Town Hall, businesses and the Masonic Temple. Another big subject of cards were special events, including the dedication of Massasoit’s Spring and a pageant held in Warren in 1914.

“There’s even one of a man with his chickens at his chicken coop,” Mr. Chaney said. “He was obviously proud of them.”

Looking at cards printed many years apart, one can get a sense of how Warren evolved over time. And they play an important role in the town’s history, recording old institutions, ways and organizations that otherwise might have been forgotten.

They also show the town’s beauty. One of Mr. Chaney’s favorites is a view of Main Street taken about a century ago.

“You have to admit (it) is pretty amazing,” he said, “showing the canopy of elm trees stretching as far as the eye can see from the library down.”

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1 Comment

  1. Kevin Medeiros says:

    Times were much more simple back then. Natural beauty oozed in every direction looked.

    Walking down the sidewalks under the shade of the massively beautiful elms, slightly swaying in a summer’s breeze above your head, providing shade on a hot day. The trees would line both sides of the road for as far as the eye could see. The fresh smell of the bakery would come from one direction, while the smell of fresh seafood being pulled out of the water in the other. The noise one would hear; people chatting, birds flying from tree to tree, and the melodic beats of the horses clopping down the cobblestone roads. Times seamed more beautiful then, more peaceful.

    Warren is quite different 100 years later. The once beautiful elm trees have been replaced by slim brown electrical poles strewn with black sagging wires in every direction imaginable. As cars, buses, and trucks line the streets through all hours of the day, all that could be smelled is exhaust and rubber. Instead of the horses marching down the road, one is greeted with the sound of people yelling and horns being blown, and birds are seldom heard.

    A once majestic waterfront has now been replaced with an ugly concrete jungle. It’s fun to romantise about what the town of Warren was a one time. There is something about the simple beauty that Warren once was.

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