Other people’s postcards – Part III

Jacksonville, Florida - 1951 ( Oriental Gardens)

 Hi Shirley,

Boy, you two sure are missing something out here.  Now I know you will like it here! The air is nice and it smells good, too! You should see the baby. Even she is crazy about it!

Love, Ann Pratt

Ann, I’d like you to know that sixty years after you sent this postcard to your friend, you’re right.  You are still  right.  The air is nice and it does smell good here!  Though I have no idea what the Oriental Gardens was, this was the perfect opportunity to research it.  The Real Housewives of New York comes on in 11 minutes so I’ll do my best to inform the public. Or at least the 7 people who regularly read this blog.

In 1925, George W. Clark, a Riverside resident, began planting overflow from his botanical collection on a vacant bluff overlooking the St. Johns River.  Eventually, this 18 acre private estate would open to the public.  From 1937 to 1954, Oriental Gardens became Jacksonville’s major attraction.

During this period, the gardens featured hourly concerts, 500 year old Live Oaks and 100 varieties of tropical and subtropical plants, shrubs and trees.  Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  In 1954, the private estate was purchased by State Investment Company and carved into 33 single family home sites.

 I like how it says “carved into 33 single family home sites”.  Jacksonville has done very little to rid itself of this murderous reputation. (information above was found here)

It turns out Jacksonville Public Library has an entire postcard collection devoted to the Oriental Gardens.  Click here to see those.

There isn’t a whole lot of information to be found on the attraction and what I can find just repeats the first article I linked to above. Sadly, it gonna have to end here. 

Except I’m getting a little curious to know who the postcard recipient actually is.  Her name is Shirley and I don’t feel comfortable posting her last name.  All I can tell you is that she was from Chicago and had alot of friends.  They all travelled and thought enough of her to send her postcards.  Seriously. This woman has stuff coming from all over the globe.  Alot of people loved her. 

Shirley, you’re a woman after my own heart. I love postcards, too. Maybe one day someone will be interested enough in my collection to pay for the bulk mess of them at my estate sale.  Until then, you’re the star.  And I notice you moved around alot.  It’s like we’re soulmates.

Thanks for the memories, Shirley.  Even if they are yours.


About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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