Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Little Herstory

A trip down memory lane took me so far back I had to hit Google to bolster this bit of her- story. I bank at Wells Fargo. I saw this beauty before I pulled into the parking lot. It made me forget all about going to the ATM. Turned out he cool cowboy was game, and seeing as how I was interested, well . . . we talked. He was proud of his charge and my wanting to photograph her as he filled me in on her backstory was the icing on both our cakes.

The closer I got, the better she looked! 

Such a fantastic head shot, yes? It's easy to imagine the coach drivers perched a little higher than the horses, cracking a horse hide whip, and spittin' chaw. Then I imagine all the dust they bate. It took six horses to pull this painted wagon, children! 

Here's a map of an overland mail route. I forget who deserves credit for this, but I thank them with all sincerity and quarts and quarts of gratitude. I recall very little from all the westerns I watched about this part of history but they're there--one more unbelievable than the first. All those stagecoach robberies, being chased by Indians and bandits! Those old movies fueled my imagination against the day I was destined to come face to face with a bit of wonder. My brief herstory of time does not include the Pony Express, but this is about an amazing stagecoach: a Wells Fargo stagecoach. WF "opened for business in the gold rush port of San Francisco before the 1850 boom. Somebody had to get that gold back East, right?

Wells Fargo delivered by the fastest means possible whether it was by stagecoach, railroad, steamship, pony or telegraph. Who knew??? They covered all the bases, and would have been in the air as well, had it been possible. Pigeons weren't good at long distance travel, so . . . WF helped start the Overland Mail Company, the Butterfield Line, and took over the Pony Express in 1861. The movie, "The Pony Express," starring Charleston Heston as Buffalo Bill Cody and Forest Tucker as Wild Bill Hickok, was released in 1953. Oh. Rhonda Fleming got to take a bath in at least one scene.

Oops! Here's a frontal view. It can't have been comfortable being jostled and jounced with very little shock absorption. Riding in a buckboard couldn't have been more painful. I wonder how man stagecoach drivers came back as bus drivers in a future life? 

It's amazing how transportation changed the American landscape. Contact was vital, so mail was like a civilization's life blood. I remember when my aunts had to "go to town" to collect their mail before the rural mail route was extended to the "suburbs." Establishing a post office in  (Curtis, TX) put our community on the map, so to speak. Never mind Custer having bivouacked for a time on the courthouse grounds. The building itself housed the postmaster's family upstairs, but the best part was on the first floor. It was a general store cum post office! Double your pleasure, double you delight. I preferred that post office to the one in town, although the main post office had an air conditioned interior, cool marble floors and interesting people to gaze at. What do you expect? I was just a little girl during those summers spent in the country. When we lived in Jasper during Daddy's deployments, our mail was delivered, but we still had to go to the post office for stamps and money orders. Our hometown mailman, Raymond, also a distant relative, held delivered our community mail until the retired. The most memorable delivery I recall was a box of baby chicks! Yes, you could mail order just about everything back then.

Did you know that each coach had a different view painted on the door? Indeed. I'd have loved having that job! I wonder of any bore a view of San Francisco's Bay? I forgot to ask about this lovely view!

Doesn't this just set your imagination on fire? There was no such thing as a spare wheel. Or a jack. The boot can't have carried much baggage, and wouldn't heavy boxes on top have made it top heavy? Think "making a curve during a chase!" And all that dust. I'd have taken a train!

The interior cannot have been very comfortable, but the seats and side panels were well turned out with leather interiors. The box in the middle was often used to seat an extra passenger. Oh, their poor backside! Yes, I got to climb inside! Cowboy took a photo of me, but I'm not about to make you jealous! 

Wait! What an improvement, huh? No wonder women wore big bustles back then! This is not my photograph. I try to give credit where credit is due, but I forget with this one. My interior is larger. It's a good thing people were much smaller back then. 

I wish I had this stamp. Well, not this particular one, but wouldn't it be cool to have an Overland Mail Stamp? I'll bet four pennies were hard to come by back then--unless you were a miner, Miss Kitty, a bar keep, or an outlaw. Or a Wells Fargo driver?

A dusty windshield is so much better than a dust dinner. This is where it started. I hardly carry my camera with me any more. What a story I'd have missed on this, the stagecoach's last day, had I not been so mindful of possible magical moments. Thanks to my Therd Eye, I got to record a bit of herstory. And just imagine . . . we would not be pen friends back in the day when coaches reigned, and six horses were reined by a toughened chaw-chewing driver. We never would have met! You know there was at least one female driver, right? 

I have fresh mail ready for tomorrow. The day was too hot to walk to the mail box this afternoon, but last night was cool enough to pen at least two letters. What's in your out box? Do you have a mail-related  herstory to share? Yes? Well, write on!

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