The Boardwalk Smile

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This card has a 1906 copyright credited to W.G. Russell, Atlantic City, NJ. The Boardwalk Smile is written on the left and Take a Smile with Me on the right. Someone has written HERB AT AVALON, in faded pencil at the top. The card is addressed to Mrs. Martha Emorg (?) Devon Rt. Mt. Airy, Philadelphia – at least that is the best I can make out. It was sent on August 31, 1906 from Philadelphia. It is also stamped as received by Mt. Airy, but without a date or time stamp.

According to Kim (a reliable source) take a smile with me means have a drink with me and clearly Atlantic City was already in the prime of its rollicking good times and New Jersey embracing what would become a reputation for notable corruption. Franklin Pierce Stoy was in his second term as Mayor, the first term was 1894-1897. It appears he was re-elected in 1900 and died in office in 1911 during his second term.  He died of neuritis (which sounds truly dreadful and horribly painful) at a sanitarium, Clear View, in nearby Pennsylvania. His political followers, who were being investigated by a Grand Jury at the time, were “stunned by this latest and entirely unexpected development” according to the New York Times, July 23, 1906. The article goes on to say, “the Mayor left the city three weeks ago on the eve of the Elks convention and it was not generally known until a few days later that he was ill.”  It also notes that Stoy was known as the Dandy Mayor. The other notable event in Atlantic City of that year was a great train wreck in October, a train derailed on a bridge over what is described as a creek on Wikipedia and the train fell into the water. While 14 passengers were saved, another 53 lost their lives in the tragedy. It seems to have always been a city of high highs and low lows.

On an entirely different note, the artist of the card, W. G. Russell, seems to have been better known for seascapes much as the one shown here.

Schooner Alberta Atlantic City, NJ

Schooner Alberta Atlantic City, NJ

I am left wondering if it was he who also painted this strange smiling puss or was that addition by someone else? The kitty is a somewhat menacing fellow with his fur up and his toothy and yet toothless grin! The beard and semi-wink of one eye – this fellow sure did know where to go and what to do in order to have fun in AC tonight!

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