April 30, 2023,
A Fifth Sunday
There was a “Fifth Sunday” in January 2021, on that day Postcard History began a series of articles on unrelated postcards that had short but interesting histories. Today, the fifth Sunday of April 2023, we present three more histories of three unrelated postcards – a candy advertisement, a long forgotten stage personality, and salt – yes, plain old salt. Happy Fifth Sunday!
If you lived in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1950s, you may remember the Chandler & Rudd grocery stores. The Chandler and Rudd stores were among the few places where the residents of northeast Ohio could purchase fine and exquisite food items and delicacies like German pickles, French peas, English kippered herring, and cinnamon from Vietnam, marmalade from Scotland, and anchovies from Portugal.
The company was founded as a grocery store in 1864 as the Jones-Potter Company. After only four years, Jones sold the company to William Rudd, one of the first employees, and his partner George Chandler. They changed the name of the store but stayed in the original location on the south side of Public Square. Public Square is the geographic center of Cleveland where two of the main streets (Superior and Ontario) intersect.
Chandler and Rudd became synonymous with Public Square and developed a reputation as the finest of all commissaries, but at the same time they also sold several conventional lines of groceries. And as time passed the company added their own line of baked goods and candy.
By 1888 the company agreed to incorporate and expand, but Chandler left the business in 1894, ostensibly because Rudd wanted to discontinue the sale of alcoholic beverages and liquor and remove other such products from the inventory.
Over the years, there was only one setback event. It came in 1914 when their Willson neighborhood store burned down. It was a setback, but albeit a minor one since William Rudd was married to John D. Rockefeller’s sister Mary. John D. was happy to lend his brother-in-law enough cash to rebuild.
After Chandler’s departure, William Rudd and his brother George were now in charge and changes came quickly: Chandler & Rudd was the first grocery store in Cleveland to make extensive use of direct mail (postcards) and newspaper advertising. It was the nation’s first (1910) grocery store to encourage customers to order by phone and get free delivery of their order, and in the midst of the Depression the company expanded to nine stores making it easier for their customers to shop in their own neighborhood.
Chandler & Rudd remained part of William Rudd’s legacy until 1960 when it was sold to Fred Marino, a produce manager, who continued operation until 2009. In 2009 Chandler & Rudd closed after 145 years in business.
Who was Zelda Sears?
In an attempt to prove a point, nine people were asked if they had any idea who Zelda Sears was. No one did!
Zelda would not mind being written about as Zelda instead of Ms. Sears. She was many things: a business entrepreneur, writer, script-editor, and actress.
Born to Justin L. Paldi, the civil engineer of Port Huron, Michigan, and his wife Roxe, Zelda’s childhood was quite short – at age 12 she was forced to begin working to avoid a family financial crisis related to her father’s amateur horse-breeding business.
Like many of her generation, it was work all day and spend the evenings learning new skills. While working as a cash-runner in a department store, she taught herself secretarial skills, then became a salesclerk and by age 16 was a fledgling reporter at the Port Huron Daily Times.
In June 1889, she made her acting debut and in 1892, married a fellow actor, Herbert Sears. Acting and writing and now in Chicago, Zelda had an opportunity to interview Sarah Bernhardt in 1894 for the Chicago Herald. She got the interview, but it ended with her being hired as an extra in the production. It changed her life and caused her to relocate to New York.
Spending the next few years in New York, Zelda refined her acting skills but also opened her own stenography and typewriting service. Her clients were theatre people and playwrights. It wasn’t long before she became a very highly paid script doctor.
For the next decade, Zelda collaborated with playwright Clyde Fitch in seven of his stage productions. Regrettably stereotyped as a “stage old maid” she decided in the 1920s to write scripts for Cecil B. DeMille’s movies and continued to do so until a few months before her death on February 19, 1935.
Throughout her life Zelda was associated in many ways with sixty-one stage productions or Hollywood films. The postcard here is one of a series published in 1910 to advertise the Boston (in the Park Theater, but later the “State” cinema) production of Anne Caldwell’s The Nest Egg.”
Collecting Salt in Spain
If this card looks like a Stengel postcard, it’s because it is, but it is an early one (#19996) likely published circa 1905 to 1908. The Spanish caption “Cadiz Las Salinas” in English means “Cadiz: The Salt Flats.”
Harvesting salt in the flats near Cadiz, Spain, is a tradition that dates back nearly three thousand years when the Phoenicians built villages along the Atlantic Ocean’s shorelines. Other civilizations like the Tartars and Romans also settled in the area and seemingly without rancor or conflict, practiced the gathering of salt with the help of the hot Saharan winds that facilitated the evaporation of seawater. From the water came minerals and salt – a commodity worth more than gold in many eons of history.
As few as forty years ago nearly 400 families were involved in the annual salt harvest. Today, because the old salt flats are now set aside as a national park, there are only a few families – perhaps five or six – that participate in the annual tradition. And, it is not easy to visit. Invitations are needed these days and when an invitation is offered, the privilege should not be refused.
On a hot, but cloudy Saturday in late August (2007) when we stood on the banks of the salt evaporating reservoirs it seemed like a very stark and barren place. There was no sign of wildlife and the scorching hot sun had baked the green out of the salt grasses. We were there to see the traditional salt harvest festival.
Like so many other countries in Europe, every festival is rooted in tradition, religion, and lots of fine food. In Spain most festival menus are prepared on charcoal fires and include many varieties of seafood, cheeses, olives, and plenty of sherry or the Spanish version of vinho verde (a crisp and refreshing green Portuguese wine that is served ice-cold).
The images that remain in memory are the abandoned boats along the edges of the channels, the remnants of a salt mill that likely pre-dated the Spanish Civil War (1936), and the pyramids of collected salt that dot the landscape all the way to the horizon.
There is nothing to celebrate until the harvest is complete, in order to accomplish the task, seawater from the bay is allowed to flow into ponds where the salt is concentrated through the evaporation of water aided by hot African winds. In a series of further evaporations other minerals are precipitated and collected for agricultural and scientific uses. But the prize, after about six weeks comes when the flor de sal begins to form as crystals on the surface of the water.
If you have never used or tasted flor de sal, you’re in for a special treat. The flavor comes from traces of Iodine, Magnesium, and Potassium that are present on the surface of saltwater. Sodium Chloride, the chemical compound that fills the shakers on our dining room table is gathered from the bottom of the pond.
What’s the difference between regular salt and flor de sal, you ask?
Mostly, the price, flor de sal is expensive, but only you can answer, after you taste it, but some doctors agree that it could be “… five or six points on a sphygmomanometer!”