Among the many letters I have been archiving from my great, great grandparents in Valley City, North Dakota was this unusual gem. A quick postcard from Hilda (which at that time, judging by the hundreds of postcards I have was the early 20th century version of a paper tweet) alerting my great grandmother that she had missed the train out of Fergus Falls, MN and would be arriving a day late to Valley City.
But she chose this post card of the "State Hospital of Insane" (even the odd grammar of this title suggests something is off about the place) on which to write and then send her message. Were there no postcards of flowers? Or Puppies in teacups? (I have plenty of those). I mean, who chooses such a card off the rack? And I wonder how great grandmother Jennie Westergaard felt when she laid eyes on it for the first time. Did she know from the front that only Hilda could have sent it? And then...she saved the card, put it in a leather bound scrapbook made expressly for storing one's postcards. I am now on a hunt through all the cards and letters to see if Hilda shows up again in the mail. She seems like someone I might like to know.
I also learned from Wes Anderson, director of the Barnes County Historical Society in Valley City that Fergus Falls is currently working on a project to restore and re-purpose the old asylum into new apartments. And while I am always glad to see historical buildings given a new life, I can't shake the thought that this sounds like the plot of half a dozen horror movies where happy young couples meet angry, insane ghosts in their kitchens, bedrooms, and hallways.