Ribaldry: The Postal Underbelly

The naughty postcard. Let the folks back home know you’re letting your hair down on vacation. (Note: as a rule, sniggery cards feature especially inept renderings of the human face. And plaid.)

In 1908, a mother chose to send this to her son…Calling Dr. Freud, stat!!

His face…so smug as he helps keep the glass ceiling installed in this (clearly non-OSHA approved) place of employ. Let’s hope she made a few extra special adjustments to his brakes.

The logical conclusion of “No child left behind.” Fundamentals are ill-taught, and a young Liberace lookalike leers while his schoolmates watch approvingly.



She calls him “dear,” which implies that they have a relationship of some duration. And yet, rather than alert her that an event has transpired, unbeknownst to her, that could cause deep shame…he can only gape and move his hand in a disturbing fashion.



What is the sordid scenario here? She seems unaware that her companion has assembled a cross-section of the men of town to live vicariously through him. The ringleader wears the requisite plaid.

Wait—they’re going to sneak into the 1961 World’s Fair just so he can feed his proctological fetish? (Note the chin cleft that echoes the object of his affection…very nice.)

Is he facing forward or backward?  Shoulder blade, or sternum? His upper torso is Escheresque. No matter…. soon he will receive his just reward. The leerees feign boredom, knowing a great deal of pleasure is soon to follow.


More finely rendered faces…now taking bets on whose malformed leg hangs over the edge of the tub. And, a not-too-surprising detail.


It is not only the males who inflict their burdensome sexuality on others. I shudder to think what goes on in their squalid bedroom.

Presumably this cowpoke stands here allllll day long so as to make that joke to passersby. The fellow at left is mesmerized by his oddly conformed midriff.


Because of her beauty, she is unconcerned about cannibalism. And note the tribal plaid loincloths.

When I was in grade school, girls used to draw those winglike things at the top of ladies’ dresses. I thought I would someday understand what they are. This has yet to happen.



Another predatory female. She seems to be sporting spike moccasins. And a bit of the pathetic fallacy evident on the teepee décor.


Yep, folks. Someone drew it. Someone published it. And someone bought it in Virginia City and sent it home to Aunt Bessie.


Why they’re in the middle of nowhere with large suitcases, adjusting their undergarments, is not clear…but he’s mighty glad to have stumbled on the scenario. Again, the plaid sportcoat.

Ditto this guy—his face suggests that he is about to turn their picnic into a thing of unspeakable horror. Let’s hope one of them scrawls his license number in the sand….

And plaid, natch.

Where the HELL is her nose?? No mind…through sheer lust, this fellow slashes what appears to be an Arshile Gorky painting. The fellow in the background tries to make a break for it to get a look—but his battleaxe wife puts the kibosh on that.



Did the artist have CLUE ONE about the myriad subtexts of this card? I think the fella does….

They start young. Where are her clothes? And where is her mother taking her? It’s 1958—therapists haven’t been invented yet. The boys…soon they will wear their first plaid.

Wait—is this a toddler with a martini and ideas??

The occasional male subject lacks the predatory facial expression and, indeed, seems to be alarmed at the presence of unexpected femaleness. Who thought we would find these sensitive fellows in this genre?

(1910) The wrong bathing machine. A situation ripe for hijinks! Her bathing costume probably has five pounds of fabric…but he’s freaking out. And what happened to his left hand?






At first I thought this fellow’s cigar had been propelled from his mouth because of the shapely customer in the showroom…but a closer examination suggests he is alarmed at his companion’s sexist comment. We can relax on his behalf, knowing that relieved realization of the misunderstanding will soon follow. Who knows—she might even go for a guy in plaid!