There is something a bit mysterious about an unopened, gifted package. The idea for the novel I am working on (see: A note in a bottle) was made even more special by the surprise package I received in the mail that one day, so many decades ago now.
The post-office delivered mailer I received the other day from my friend Jack from across the U.S. though, knocked my socks off. Yes, those of you who knew Dick Montgomery – I am repeating a true blue Dick Montgomery expression. But it did. Bowl me over. Truly. When Jack asked for my address recently, although I didn’t have any idea why, I had no idea that the surprise he found in his grandmother’s belongings would so steal my heart.
Memories can be deceiving: as I stare at the pattern on the back of the deck of cards, my mind tries to convince me that my grandparents had an identical deck, for they did love playing cards. Gin Rummy and Solitaire, mostly. And I have no doubt that if there was such a pack of cards available back then, my history-loving relatives would surely have purchased such a deck.
“Portland and Columbia River souvenir playing cards,” holding a copyright date of 1909 by the U.S. Playing Card Co. of Cincinnati, display a unique image on each card. Diamond and Club suits show off pictures that are river-related (rock monuments, boats, falls). Hearts feature Portland buildings, while the final suit of Spade delivers residences, statues, and a few remaining Oregon images that someone determined were necessary to complete the deck. Most images take me down lanes of my own memories, as they will for those who know and love our Oregon. It seems that most of the objects pictured still stand, though aged with the filter of over a century of years. Thanks Jack, for your thoughtfulness, and for making my day.
It does make me ask the question: are there others who still hold a deck of these special cards? Searching through the internet in the usual places offers no clues. Are they in fact so unique that they deserve a special holding place other than my own dusty shelf? Please tell – I’d love to know.