Updated Sept. 21
It’s not every day the U.S. Postal Service finds a lost postcard from 79 years ago.
Keith Marino, an employee of the Edgartown Post Office, found the postcard in the daily straggler mail section. Once Marino found out whom it was for, he contacted the next of kin, Robert Ciancio.
Marino said this is an uncommon occurrence. The postcard is stamped as being sent in 1942, and Post Offices organized mail by hand during those times. Marino is uncertain how the postcard ended up in the straggler mail section.
Marino said it meant “a whole lot” to him to add to Ciancio’s family history.
The postcard was addressed to Ciancio’s aunt, Rita C. La Bell, from someone whose cursive seems to read “Pidgo,” in 1942. The address reads 37 Campbell St., New Bedford. The 1942 sender sent a message to La Bell, hoping she has “good luck in the seventh grade.” The sender also asked La Bell to “write and tell me all about it.” Ciancio said he did not recognize the name.
The postcard will join Ciancio’s collection of items from the time period. The front of the postcard displays a young woman kissing a World War II soldier inside of the barrel of a howitzer while another soldier is reporting to a general in the background, saying, “Sorry General, I can’t find your daughter anywhere.”
“I absolutely love the graphics, it’s gorgeous,” Ciancio said.
Ciancio owns other pieces of family history as well, such as his grandfather’s uniform, dog tags, and discharge papers. His grandfather, Major J. La Bell, was a cook for the Army during World War I. Although La Bell was French Canadian, he fought for the American military, and settled down on Martha’s Vineyard as a plumbing contractor after being honorably discharged in 1917.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration, 18 percent of the American armed forces were foreign-born during World War I. Congress passed the Act of May 9, 1918, to expedite the naturalization process for foreign-born service members. This led to more than 300,000 service members earning citizenship under the act.
Ciancio was very happy to have this addition to his family’s history. “It’s incredible, it really is. It’s really cool,” Ciancio said. “My siblings will be jealous.”
Updated with corrections about the message in the postcard.