Scandalized in Atlantic City…

Atlantic City Inlet 1904 New Jersey PostcardOver the years I’ve acquired a few vintage postcards from New Jersey; they’re charming time capsules both visually and by the amusing little messages they share.  This is easily one of my favorites,with two graceful gaff-rigged sloops under sail and three more waiting scandalized at the dock.

Scandalized? Did they do something immoral or shocking? Absolutely not. But reducing sail area of by lowering the gaff or raising the boom is known as scandalizing. As I understand it the expression originated from the term ‘scantelize’, from scantle or ‘make small’. See? You never know what you might learn on my blog.

The other amusing detail on this card is the message. Look close and you can read, “My dear little boy –  I hope you are being a very good boy and having a nice time. Be good to Mildred – Mother”

It sounds to me like mom got away for a few days and left Junior at home.


  1. I love old postcards, not only for their pictorial glimpses into the past, but for the glimpses into the lives of those that sent them, like the message on yours.

    Two favorite inscriptions from my own collection of local postcards:
    – On a postcard of the Second State Hospital for the Insane:
    ‘Please take good care of “Bernard” until I get home. Mamma’

    – On a postcard of the Central School building, written by a young, newly-hired teacher: much “everything is fine, how is so-and-so, say ‘hello’ to all for me” chit-chat…postmarked one month after the school burned down.

  2. LOL! I love the idea that the Second State Hospital for the Insane had postcards to begin with! Did they have tee-shirts as well? “My mom went to the Second State Hospital for the Insane and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt.”

    Yes, the inscriptions are half the fun with some of these. I’ll be posting a few more, and I know some people prefer unblemished cards, but for me it’s those brief words for another era that make these cards all the more fascinating.


    Yeah, some of the postcard subjects from back then are real head-scratchers. I realize that in a time when photography was still a hobby for the well-off, postcards were an affordable alternative, so pretty much *everything* got photographed and printed on a cheap card. But why did Martha think she’d charm the folks back home with a scene of the county poor house?

  4. I like this post. Thanks for sharing a little boat knowledge. I love the message on the card as well. I live in Saigon right now and heard there was a shop here with old returned mail in the back. I might go look for postcards.

  5. I’m glad you liked the post. I’ve always been amused by the term ‘scandalized’ when it came to sailing; I would wonder what was so scandalous about dropping the gaff. Once I understood the origin it made so much more sense.

    The old postcards are fascinating time capsules. As my friend Seaver said, it’s fascinating what people chose to send and to say. I’ve acquired a few more fun ones, I’ll be posting them from time to time. I’m curious to hear what sort of postcards you’d find in the returned mail where you are. I was reading your bio – you’ve seen so many places!

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