THE POST CARD, DATED Oct. 4, 1927, showed the ornate Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. "Dear Earle," a tourist had scrawled on the back before mailing it to San Francisco, "Am having one thrilling time. . . . A good way to get a good laugh here is to walk the street and watch the natives."
Los Angeles' reputation as some kind of lush asylum obviously had an early start. But in those pre-television days, when it was up to post cards to describe Southern California to the folks in Iowa, Kansas and New York, the images and words were overwhelmingly flattering. We know that millions of people were lured to Southern California by climate and economy, but we may never know how many migrations were inspired by the wonders shown on a penny post card.
Before color film allowed us the brash, glossy post cards of today, there was the classic Southern California card. It started with a black-and-white photo of a tourist attraction or a "typical" scene, which was then tinted with sublime, unearthly colors that originated in an artist's airbrush and rarely in nature. The 14 idealized, pastel visions on these pages are reprinted from "Greetings From Southern California," a post-card collection with text by Los Angeles writers Carolyn See, John Espey and Lisa See Kendall, writing under the collective pen name Monica Highland. Published this month by Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co. of Portland, Ore., the book contains almost 300 post cards from about 1910 to 1950, including a few of the thousands Carolyn See inherited from her father, collector George N. Laws.