Friday, 30 January 2009

The Freedom Train

No 10 in an occasional series of extracts from The Postcard Century

November 1947: Ruthie in Syracuse, NY, to Priscilla Clarke in Marlborough, Mass: Dear Butch, Be sure to save this card for me! The Letter paper is absolutely lovely; hope I get a chance to use it soon, too!! Thanks a lot. I'm dying to see you in your scout uniform - I'll bet you look really sharp! The Colgate game was wonderful - I've never been so excited in my whole life!
The Freedom Train in red, white and blue livery started out on a two year journey in September 1947, stopping in all 47 states. In a manner paradoxically reminiscent of the Soviet Agitprop trains of the early twenties it was a travelling exhibition of democratic propaganda and patriotic memorabilia. The show included unique items that citizens in remote places would not normally get a chance to see, including a 1493 letter of Columbus, Washington's own copy of the Constitution, the Gettysburg address, etc.
Long queues formed wherever it stopped and many waited four or five hours to get to see the show. The millionth visitor was a girl in Oklahoma who travelled sixty miles in a blizzard to view the exhibited wonders.

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