blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2010  Vol. 9  No. 2

Introducing Postcards to Aix
Nancy Rufty Schandelmeier

Postcards to Aix is a collection of 145 postcards from Richard Carlyon to Nancy Rufty Schandelmeier in Aix, France.

Back and front are displayed on the same page (scroll down to see the front if it is hidden on your screen)

To begin moving through the project from the beginning, select Postcards to Aix above. At any point, you may also jump to a visual key in the Table of Figures.

In the late summer of 1984, our youngest daughter and I traveled to France to find a beautiful place to live during the coming school year. During the first semester she would go to a French school to learn the language, experience another culture, and hear about history and contemporary politics from another country’s point of view while I took a respite from scientific editing to devote my time to writing. During the second semester, our middle daughter would join us and they would travel. We decided to look around in Aix en Provence because a Marseille scientist in my field was my sponsor for a visa and we wanted to visit and thank him. When we found a two-room cottage at Les Peiriere, on top of the Bibemus overlooking Ste Victoire and Le Tholonet, we knew we had found the perfect spot.

As soon as we sent our new address, we began to receive postcards with wonderful images and interesting remarks or quotes from my brother-in-law, Richard Carlyon. We looked forward to walking the half mile to our mailbox. Away from home, mail is all-important! We couldn’t have a phone because it was forbidden to have a telephone pole on such an historic site. After all, the Bibemus was where Cézanne had set up his easel for many of his paintings of Ste Victoire! As the postcards continued to arrive, everyone in our little neighborhood—the landlady’s big family, the students who rented rooms in her house, the French families and ex-pats who lived nearby—began to anticipate what would come next and everyone dropped by to visit our latest mantle display. We all tried to imagine how many had read the cards as they made their way from Richmond, Virginia to Les Peiriere.

By midwinter, the cards began to have artwork on both sides and, as you will see, finally became small paintings. To me, they represented the respect Dick had for my endeavor as well as his love for our family, and they encourage me yet. Surely there are few greater joys than having artists in one’s family. Certainly no one ever had a more wonderful brother-in-law.  end

Nancy Rufty Schandelmeier is a writer and editor living in Washington, DC. She has published poems and stories in various journals and was the first managing editor of Undersea Biomedical Research, a journal of scientific research in diving medicine.

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