Thursday, July 19, 2018

@%*X% Screwy Whistles and "Tieing Knots"

It's become a summer ritual for me to look for antique postcards, especially those that were actually written and mailed. Last year was a treasure trove, and this year I found one that reinforces the "power of place."
The place: 
304 E. 24th St., Wilmington, DE.
I found this postcard in Rehoboth Beach, DE in July 2018.
"Well now, Helen!  This is better than tieing (sic.) knots, & waiting for that @%*X% screwy whistle!"
Mailed July 22, 1941 from Montreal to Wilmington, DE
Front: Canadian War Memorial, Ottawa

2 cent Canadian stamp
What we might be able to infer is that Kay and Helen worked together at a factory tying ("tieing") knots, and their shift must have ended or been marked by a whistle. 

What factories were in Wilmington at that time?
Wilmington was an ideal location for shipbuilding because the strip of land that was used for factories was sandwiched between the railroad and access to the ocean.

This article also explains that Wilmington was a magnet for women who wanted to work, and housing was very tight.  People subdivided even small apartments. So it's feasible they worked together in a factory.
This is what the house where Helen was living in 1941 looks like today:

We can't know exactly what their story was, but it turns out that the postcards I found last summer also connect to Helen and Kay and 304 E.24th St.,Wilmington, DE.

The chain started in 1908. Fred wrote to Harry Fox in Newark, DE from NYC.

In 1927, the address for Harry Fox became the same one where Helen will be living when Kay  eventually sends her the "tieing knots" postcard from Montreal. In 1927, Nell (Mrs. Harry Fox) received this from Dora, mailed in Atlantic City.
In 1928, "Mrs. Fox" received this from Kessler, also mailed from Atlantic City.
Two years later, Mr. Fox received this card from Mr. Kessler.
In 1933, Vilma and Leon wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Fox from Newport News, VA.
In June 1941, Mr. Harry Fox received this postcard from Walter E. in Richmond, on his way to Pittsburgh.
Then we have our convergence: 
July 22, 1941 
We have another card from Kay to a different person at Helen's address. (Kay obviously wrote more than one postcard in that session.) Her tone with Florence Fox, though, is more formal than when she wrote to Helen (Mrs. Vernon Wenhold).
July 30, 1941, "Mother & Dad" wrote to Helen (and Vernon), mailed from North Carolina, and they'd been sick.
July 31, 1941 
Mother & Dad (different people? different handwriting) wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Fox, mailed from North Carolina.
September 26, 1941 Harry and Jack wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Fox from Luray Caverns.

It's a fascinating glimpse into a family and group of friends, but it also feels like we are given access to their lives without their permission.

Perhaps I should send a postcard their way.
Proof that the story never really ends:


Florence A. Fox (Fowler) Age 87, of Bear, DE passed away on September 8, 2009. She was a homemaker. 

Her husband, Francis W. Fox, Sr. died in 1988. 

Florence is also preceded in death by her children, Donald Fox, Barbara Saxe, and Deborah Fox, granddaughter, Kimberly Saxe, and brothers, Kenneth and Larry. 

Florence is survived by her children, William Fox (Ellen) of Newark, Jane Lyons (Bob) of Ocean View, DE, Linda Manuel (Larry) of Bear, and Francis W. Fox, Jr. (Shirl) of Smyrna, 16 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, 2 great great grandchildren, daughter-in-law, Nancy Fox, and son-in-law, Wilford Saxe. 

FOX, Francis W. Sr.

Death: 15-Aug-1988

Their son: 
Francis Fox, Jr.

Age 58, passed away suddenly on June 7, 2015 in Bayhealth, Dover, DE.

He was born the son of the late Florence and Francis W. Fox, Sr. Francis was preceded in death by his brother, Donald Fox and his sister, Barbara Saxe. He was a chemical operator at General Chemical Company prior to retiring.

Francis was a veteran of the U.S. Army and Delaware National Guard. 

He is survived by his wife, Shirlene Hess Fox; a son, Francis E. Fox; a daughter, Nina E. Barlow (Clifford); his grandchildren, Hailey, Juanita, Alexis, and Nathaniel; his brother, William Fox; two sisters, Jane Lyons (Robert) and Linda Manuel (Larry).

And so it continues...

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