collective narrative, memory, story, object & location 1

My mother gave me this framed postcard last year.  It was written to my great grandmother, my mother’s mother’s mother, from her father.

On the back one can see it was sent on July 22, 1908, to Miss Beatrice L. Johnson at 5705 Fourth Ave., Brooklyn, NY.  This was the building that my grandmother grew up in.

On Sunday, I took the N train down to Sunset Park to see what was there.  This is the intersection of 4th Ave and 57th Street.

And this is the front of 5705 4th Avenue.  I looked at a real estate site that had documented that the current building was put up in 1931, later than the time of the post card.  The building has been unoccupied for at least three years from what I can tell.  Possibly longer.


There was a little note posted on the door in Chinese.  It is a traditional Chinese couplet, a poem with a pair of lines which have the same number of characters (along with other rules), usually seen on doors leading into homes. I asked Yin to translate it for me: So together the left half means Nothing is forbidden. There is no taboo. The right half is probably saying something like thriving business with lots of good luck.  Yin wrote that its a little odd that these two are together.

My ancestors were Irish immigrants.  This is a bar on the same block as 5705.

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Author: owen ribbit

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