2:00 p.m. Sunday, January 21, 2018
Vintage postcards inspire ‘Our Town: Sioux City’ program

The Betty Strong Encounter Center will present “Our Town: Sioux City” with Dave Bishop at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21. Admission will be free; a reception will follow.

Using vintage postcards and other historic images from his extensive Sioux City history collection, Bishop will take the audience on a “guided tour” of compelling events, landmarks and shady characters in Sioux City’s past.

“The audience will enjoy a colorful mixture of images and stories, some of which aren’t commonly known,” says Bishop, a longtime Sioux City postcard collector and retired Sioux City Police Dept. sergeant.

While one image recalls a record Sioux City snowfall, others capture devastating downtown fires. Perry Creek and Floyd River floods figure into “Our Hometown.” Sioux City Stockyards postcards and photographs travel back to the “Home Market to the Great Northwest.” A glimpse of a Riverside vinegar and pickle plant recalls the days when pickling was a common food-preservation method.

“A group of Central High photos will include a house that was moved to build the school in the 1890s. That house is still standing,” says Bishop.

The audience will get a look at Sioux City crime, thanks to law enforcement “Wanted” and “Reward” notices that describe stolen property, criminals and their offenses.

In the hunt for one “confidence man,” a sheriff’s “Wanted” postcard describes the perpetrator’s appearance, including a Felix the Cat tattoo on his left calf.

Bishop has collected Sioux City postcards and trade cards for almost six decades. “Long before e-mails and texts, postcards were the way people shared images and brief messages.”

Cheaper to mail than letters, postcards began to take hold in the United States in the 1870s, first as an advertising medium. Writing wasn’t permitted on the address side of a postcard until March 1, 1907, the same date when divided backs were permitted. That explains why postcards prior to that time have messages written across the picture side.

Postcards peaked in popularity during the first decade of the 20th century. In the 12 months preceding June 30, 1908, 677 million postcards were mailed.