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Postcards from the Past: Houston Heritage Society's "Greetings from Houston"

Perhaps you know already that the city of Houston is celebrating its 175th birthday, and that about a dozen exhibits will be hosted by as many organizations around the city this year. At the Houston Heritage Society, meanwhile, "we're showing Houston's history every day of the year every single year," says Ginger Berni, the exhibit coordinator behind "Greetings from Houston: Vintage Postcard Views of the City."

What better way to illustrate their constant historical activities than to bring back a successful exhibit from a year ago? And to liven things up, they're trading their show with one organized by the Museum of Printing History, "Of Birds and Texas: The Art of Scott and Stuart Gentling," opening at the Heritage Society September 13.

These picture postcards now do more than show us what Houston looked like in the first half of the 20th century. In the context of the Museum of Printing History, we see Houston's historic buildings, parks and industries as fodder for engravers, photographers and commercial printers. We puzzle at their choices made in color and composition. And we find great pathos in the inscribed messages, not only mundane descriptions of missed trains and awful weather, but also this sad note from 1936:

Dear Sis, Sure glad to hear from you - I've been out of hospital 6 days. Today is first time up - thanks a lot for offer of assistance. No. I have consolation that I can't be put in jail for indebtedness. Doctor and hospital bills since I've been in Houston $64.00. Joanne is worth a lot more than that. Daughter is mighty great. Weighs 8 lbs now. Love, Doris

"Greetings From Houston: Vintage Postcard Views of the City" is on view at the Museum of Printing History, 1324 W. Clay St., until February 4, 2012.

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