Holiday postcard circulated for 75 years

| 29 Sep 2011 | 02:08

    In 1933, a former silent movie piano player from Bridgeton picked out a Christmas card to send to her brother in Atlantic City. The postcard bears a cartoon likeness of a man carrying a walking stick and wearing a kilt and a Scottish cap, accompanied by a Scottish greeting: “These cards are verra costly/Sae next Christmas will ye be/Sae guid tae tear awa’ a ‘tab’/An’ send it back tae me?” The card has small tabs meant to be signed by the sender and torn off by the recipient before it’s mailed out again. The late Fran Tozer, who originally bought the card, never expected to get it back from her brother, Ed League, her children said. But League sent it back. And Tozer sent it out again. And before long the card was becoming filled with the names of the relatives who had received it. Last week it was mailed again, this time from Travis County, Texas,continuing a 75-year family tradition that has seen the little card crisscross America. Family names have filled the back of the card and the paper tabs. When those filled up, they stapled new slips of paper to the card. “It’s developed a life of its own,” said Gordon Tozer of Elkton, Md., one of Fran Tozer’s two children. Gordon Tozer received the card only once, in 1991, and he said he was struck by an irrational fear that his house would catch fire with the card inside. The card is put in an envelope each time it’s mailed. And it has become such a valuable family heirloom that one relative is always appointed its safekeeper. After Fran Tozer died in 2000, that job went to her daughter, Joan Tozer Herrick. Last year, Herrick passed the card to Pete League, one of Ed League’s sons, who lives in Texas. Pete League said the tradition used to be that the safekeeper sent the card to someone for Christmas one year, then the recipient sent the card back to the safekeeper the next year. He said he wants to get the card to more family members by asking the recipient to send the card back to him by Dec. 1 so he can mail it to a new recipient each year. Pete League said he has asked relatives to keep the card in a safe-deposit box while they have it. The card has been sent to relatives in New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Georgia, New York, Texas and California, said League, a retired human resources manager for Shell oil company. Pete League said he still remembers how much his late father, who was a veteran of World I and World War II and started the Atlantic City marathon, enjoyed getting the card in the mail. “He would make a big fuss out of it and make sure all kids saw it,” League said. “It always got front and center on the mantelpiece.” One of League’s brothers, another New Jerseyan, Joe League, said the card brings back memories of his parents and aunt and uncle. He received it once, in 1974. “My father would get as many kids in the car as he could and head off to Aunt Frannie and Uncle Nate’s house,” he said. He remembers venturing into his uncle’s woodworking shop, where his uncle would show him how the woodcutting tools worked, “and he had wonderful stories and little jokes he used to tell.” Now, Pete League is planning to share the card with a new generation. He said he has 32 nieces and nephews, and he wants all of them to receive it at least once. So last week, he put it in an envelope and sent it through registered mail to a nephew in Kansas, who will add his name to the card’s history.