July 28, 2021

Ray Hahn

Greetings from Harrisonburg

The Shenandoah Valley Postcard Show and Sale happens in Harrisonburg, Virginia, usually on the third or fourth weekend in July. It is an annual event and has been for more than thirty years.

Harrisonburg is not a town that time forgot. I once heard a young boy say, “this place is God’s country; it has everything God would want you to have.” Harrisonburg is a college town and there is a general spirit of “can-do” fueled by youthful exuberance.

Many college towns in America overflow with historical sites. That is also true in Harrisonburg, but of particular note, Harrisonburg is a virtual academy of architectural history. When you visit not only are the public buildings – court houses, schools, and churches – of great interest, but immaculately kept private homes catch-your-eye in every part of town.

Harrisonburg High School, circa 1930
Rockingham County Court House
U. S. Post Office and Court House
Virginia State Teachers College

Businesses in town run the gambit from antique malls to veterinarian’s offices. Also worthy of mention is the long list of “A” and “A+” restaurants. It is a good thing, in many ways, for postcard collectors that Jeff Bradfield, a local businessman, sponsors this annual event.

Jeff has a cadre of loyal dealers, most are from Virginia and surrounding states. Every dealer is one who works on their inventory. Noteworthy among them are Betsy Wadington, Virginia Beach, Virginia; John Lawson, Williamsburg, Virginia; Mike Uzell, Virginia; Mike Lee, Buchanan, Virginia; Joe Kirby, Salem, Virginia; and Larry & Marty Acuff, Tennessee. The selection seems to increase from year to year, and I for one would certainly welcome a second opportunity to shop for cards if Jeff would consider having a “winter” show in addition to his July event.

As for the collectors who attend the Harrisonburg show, I can only speak for myself. My first visit to Harrisonburg was sometime between 1988 to 1992. Please forgive the memory of an old man if dates are important to you. At that show and many since then I have met dealers who have become good friends. This year was no exception.

I was hardly in the door when one friend hailed me to his table with a lore in the form of a half-inch, white ring-binder full of postcards. I simply could not resist. The content of the binder is a story begging to be told. It is all about a devoted reverend in America’s heartland with a talent for art who made his own postcards. The details are yet to be researched so your opportunity to read this tale will be delayed. But, first I will present The Story of Jesse Foster (a working title) to the Hampton Roads Postcard Club in Virginia’s tidewater region. HRPC is the home club of John Lawson, the friend who has so graciously presented me with this opportunity. Watch this space.

The Shenandoah show is a two-day event at a location where everything is convenient. There are no less than four national chain hotels within a mile and at least six quality restaurants nearby.

I travel just a few more than 300 miles to Harrisonburg from my home in New Jersey. It is well worth the trip so please take my advice and mark your calendar today to attend the show next year.

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It was so much fun to be at a postcard show again! Can’t wait to hear the tale of Jesse Foster!😀

Loved the article! I have not been to Harrisburg, but your piece takes me there!

The Virginia State Teachers College card must date from between 1924 (when the institution changed its name from State Normal School for Women at Harrisonburg) and 1938 (when it became Madison College). Madison began admitting men as day students in 1946, and acquired its current James Madison University designation in 1976.

Mr. Hahn, I am not a postcard dealer, I’m merely a lover of fine postcards of a fine historical nature. I find your story (above) immensely interesting and its compelling discussion of postcard clubs, postcard shows, and the like causes me to wonder if there might not be a few of them still in existence in my own locale, which is Canton, Ohio. I acquired a good number of beautiful postcards of every kind, many of them with the original Franklin, Washington, and other beautiful postage stamps. My acquisition was intended to be more of an investment with a monetary… Read more »

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Just a note–Virginia State Teachers College (Madison College) now James Madison University is my alma mater. It looks nothing like it did when I went there, except for the building pictured. It was good to have you visit Virginia. Come back soon.

Harrisonburg is indeed a great show and thanks to this wonderful article will probably be even bigger next year. Wonderful to be “on the road’ again to a show.

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