PRICELESS POSTCARDS: Pioneer Museum puts Hall’s collection on display

Published 9:12 pm Friday, November 15, 2019

What was Wade Hall thinking when he browsed through a rack of postcards in Red Bay or Carbon Hill, Alabama? Why did he purchase postcards in places like Toad Suck, Arkansas or Flea Hill, Delaware?

Perhaps, Union Springs history buff Wade Hall was thinking about the value of a “penny postcard” for future generations or maybe he just enjoyed collecting postcards.

Either way, the late Wade Hall’s vast collection of 25,000 vintage postcards representing all 50 states and countries around the world captured times gone by and preserved them for future generations through the images on the fronts of the cards and the concise messages on the back.

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From now until December 31, a selection of Halls’ postcard collection is on display at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama and the public is invited to make the pioneer museum a destination during the holidays.

“Wade Hall donated his vast collection of postcards to Troy University in the early 2000s,” said Barbara Tatom, Pioneer Museum of Alabama director. “Troy University first hosted a display of the postcards and the collection is now a traveling exhibit. We are excited to have a display of the postcards at the museum.”

Hall’s collection includes about 5,000 Alabama postcards that have been divided into themes of interest – cities and small towns, main streets, buildings and tourism that includes Alabama’s natural beauty.

“We chose to display postcards from Wade Halls collection that depict buildings and main streets because that would be of special interest to those in our area,” Tatom said. “There are postcards with images of Troy that will be of very special interest. There is one of North Three Notch Street that was a part of the Creek hunting trail. It is very interesting to compare North Three Notch Street of yesteryear with today. There are street scenes from Luverne and Union Springs and other surrounding towns. Those street scenes have changed greatly, too.”

The display also includes postcards that depict the Pike County Courthouse and Troy State Normal College in Troy, the barracks at Camp Rucker and Milbank Agriculture Hall at Tuskegee Institute. There are postcards of the big cities in Southeast Alabama including a historic view of the Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise, Birmingham’s Third Avenue under lights and Dexter Avenue in Montgomery with Tin Lizzies all around. Dothan’s Main Street features a “picture show” marque and Sears Roebuck store.”

Tatom said the postcard exhibit brings back memories for some and gives others a backward look at the places of interest as viewed by Hall and countless others in the days gone by, including the Vulcan, WigWam Village, Marble Quarry, Purefoy Hotel, Whistle Stop, Noccalula Falls and Bellingrath Garden Home and many other notable sites.

“The postcard display is an opportunity to step back in time as we enjoy this amazing collection of unique postcard art and the messages on the back of the cards that relate the significance of the photos for then and for us now,” Tatom said.

Admission to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama includes the Wade Hall postcard display. Admission is $10 for adults and $9 for seniors ages 60-plus and members of the military, $8 for children, ages five and under and museum members are admitted free. Museum hours are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.