Posted by on Mar 29, 2014 | 1 comment

From the very beginning of this project, I’ve wondered, “What’s up with Edward?”

Think about it. At a time when the median age for a male to get married was 24.3 years, he lived with his mother until he was at least forty-two years old. Doesn’t that strike you as odd? Maybe not. Obviously, Edward was a marriage outlier in 1930’s, so that doesn’t necessarily mean that something’s “wrong” with him. Right? Perhaps he was an introvert? Or, maybe he was ill? The problem is that none of these questions can be answered through census records alone. At a certain point, we need to gather some human intelligence.

For example, imagine if Edward could tell us something about himself in his own words? Or, what if someone who lived with him could tell us something about him? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Luckily for us, we have both in the form of postcards sent to Lizzie in August 1908, while she was vacationing in Maine.

The first card, sent on August 11, 1908, comes from Edward himself.

“Dear Mother. I am keeping fine home since you went. Home early every night. Eddie. P.S. This is a sample of my typewriting.”

I find the message odd, considering that in 1908, Edward would have been twenty-two years old. Rather than exchanging social pleasantries with his mother, such as wishing her well or telling her how much he misses her, he seems to be filing some sort of report instead. And if that part of the message wasn’t strange enough, consider the postscript, where he’s showing off his typewriting skills? Had he been a 10-year old, this message wouldn’t have raised any flags, but twenty-two?

And before you think that I’m reading too much into this short missive, compare it with the message that Lizzie received two days later from her 8-year old niece (and Edward’s first cousin), Nellie Cardinal.

All is well worry for nothing. Eddy gets up early in the morning and is in early in the night. We do not need to call him in the morning. Nellie Cardinal

Together, these two postcards lead me to believe that Lizzie was so worried about Edward’s behavior while she was away, that she asked little Nellie to watch over her older cousin. Not wanting his fate to be in the hands of a young girl, Edward probably decided to launch a preemptive strike.

One more thing to note. Does the name Nellie Cardinal sound familiar? It should. She would eventually grow up to be Ellen (Cardinal) Carline, the co-owner of the house that I found the postcards in.

So, what are your thoughts on Edward?

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