I.E. is picture-perfect for postcards
John Weeks, Staff Writer
January 19, 2008
It's fun to look at postcards from exotic places. Paris. Bora Bora. The Inland Empire.
Postcards reveal so much about a place. I have a new book on my nightstand, and a new calendar on the wall, that prove the point.
The book is "San Bernardino," which uses postcards from the 1850s to the present day to chronicle the city's history. The author is Steven Shaw, president of the San Bernardino Historical and Pioneer Society.
The 2008 wall calendar is called "Greetings from the San Bernardino County Mountains," produced by San Bernardino County and the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce. It features 26 vintage postcard views of our mountain resorts.
I'm a big fan of postcards. In fact, I'm a collector.
When I walk into an antique shop, I often don't walk far. Somewhere close to the checkstand there's usually a box or bin of old postcards, and I generally get stuck there. I can flip through old postcards for hours. It's hard to tear me away. In most cases, the postcards are sorted by countries, states and cities. In the case of California cards, I am happy to report that the Inland Empire is almost always well-represented, even in antique stores far from here.
True, there may be more postcards of San Francisco, or Los Angeles, than of any single city in the Inland Empire. But if you consider all our cities together, including Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear Lake, Palm Springs, Redlands, Riverside, San Bernardino, and so on, the Inland Empire contingent actually is larger, usually, than San Francisco or L.A.
There's no doubt about it. The Inland Empire is a picturesque place. The postcards prove it. In my own collection, I have a postcard of a Death Valley sunset that will take your breath away. I have a postcard that shows Lake Arrowhead frozen over, surrounded by a winter wonderland of snowbound hills and trees. Lake Arrowhead rarely freezes over. It's an amazing image.
I have a postcard that shows the Mission Inn in Riverside when it was just a few years old. I have postcards that show movie stars splashing in the pool at the old Arrowhead Springs Hotel in San Bernardino.
I have postcards that show Redlands when it was wall-to-wall orange groves.
I have somewhere between 200 and 300 postcards in my collection. Steve Shaw has a lot more.
He specializes in postcards of San Bernardino, his native city, and he has collected more than 700.
About 225 of them appear in his new book, "San Bernardino," published by Arcadia as part of its national line of "Postcard History" books. Shaw's book is an amazing collection. There are postcards that show the city's origins as a Wild West town. There are postcards that chart the city's growth as a railroad center, a citrus capital and a Route 66 landmark.
There are images of the city's grand old buildings, bustling street scenes and fancy resorts. Jubilant scenes from old festivals, parades and other celebrations also are featured.
"San Bernardino has a fascinating history, and a lot of that history is told in postcards," says Shaw, 55, a retired city firefighter.
The book is $19.99 and available at select area bookstores and gift shops, from online booksellers and from the publisher. Call (888) 313-2665 or visit online at www.arcadiapublishing.com.
Shaw will make a personal appearance and sign copies of his book from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble in Citrus Plaza, 27460 Lugonia Ave., Redlands.
The new calendar, "Greetings from the San Bernardino County Mountains," has been distributed to 60,000 property owners in local mountain resort areas. It features not only nostalgic postcard images from the 1920s to the 1950s, but monthly tips on protecting the forest, preventing wildfires and creating defensible spaces around mountain homes.
The images, two or more for each month, show nostalgic images such as the old Pinecrest Resort in Twin Peaks, Santa's Village in its heyday at Skyforest, and a bevy of bathing beauties of the 1940s at Lake Gregory in Crestline. The postcards demonstrate the natural beauty of our mountains, and illustrate the important point that it is beauty worth preserving.
For more information, visit online at www.calmast.org.