85 Year Old Postcard Addressed To Clay Center Found In Australia

By Quinn O’Hara

On Monday, February 5th, Reddit User Maccas75, who identified themself as Rowan, shared a photo of a postcard addressed to Clay Center to the r/Kansas Reddit webpage, asking for more information about the card and its history.

The postcard, sent from Leadville, Colorado, in 1938, was addressed to a Smith Food Market in Clay Center. The card reads:

“Gang- Still going strong, and getting a lot of rest. So far there is no horse to ride. Yours truly, Tom.”

The nearly one hundred-year-old card was found by Rowan in an Australian charity store. Rowan said they don’t have any ties to Clay Center or Kansas and have no idea how the card ended up in Australia. They said they were immediately intrigued by the postcard and its origins, prompting them to post the card on Reddit.

Susan Harvey Hammond, a Clay Center resident and local historian, helped to uncover the history behind the card. Through her research, Hammond found that the Smith Food Market was established on January 18, 1927, at 509 Court Street, between where Java Junkies and Tasty Pastry Bakery are now located. It was founded by O.G. Smith and his son, Laurence Smith. Hammond said she still has one unanswered question, however, about the identity of the card’s author.

Hammond suspects the author could be Tommy Allison, who is listed as an employee of Smith Food Market in a January of 1937 edition of The Economist newspaper. She said many people traveled to Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado at the time in hopes of curing tuberculosis, and it’s possible that Tom was doing the same.

Additionally, Steve McMahan of Central Office and Supply, said Laurence Smith had worked for the McMahan’s family business after selling Smith Food Market to Combs Food Market in 1951.

McMahan said in his youth, he and Laurence Smith often fished together as well. According to their obituaries, Laurence passed away in 1993 at 91 years old, and his wife, Hazel, passed away in 2001 at 101.

After reviewing the gathered history, Rowan said it was fascinating to learn about the address on the postcard and feels they must someday visit Clay Center for themselves.

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