One Christmas a few years ago, we received a brilliant gift from friends Penny & Glenn. It was a small British book called “Boring Postcards,” compiled from the collection of Martin Parr. The minute Chris and I opened it, we were crying with laughter. Charmless vistas, an eerily empty lounge in a convalescent home, hideous concrete shopping towers, row upon row of aluminum trailers, all considered worthy of preserving for posterity by a proud postcard commissioner long ago. No commentary, snide or otherwise. The postcards simply spoke for themselves, and they’re actually not boring – they are fascinating in their own weird, banal way. We developed instant respect and adoration for Mr. Parr. He is a genius.

I just checked amazon and was thrilled to see there is now a Boring Postcards, USA. I only wish I had known in time to submit this fabulous example, which my mother had in her own treasured collection, depicting the Del-Ray Motel, 2 miles west of Indianapolis on Route 40. Quoting exactly from the back: “Hot water, TV, phone, fan every room, Friendly people. Night or Day – Stay Del-Ray.”

Notice the mismatched and threadbare chenille bedspreads (shudder). The ghastly drapes. The claustrophobic dimensions. The creepy tile floors and walls. The Friendly person pointing at the bed – WHY? Oh God, what does he have in mind?

And the giant wobbling tomato aspic Jell-O mold upon which, unlike Martin Parr, I can’t resist commenting. Was this considered the height of sophistication in 1950s cuisine? Did anyone looking at this postcard really think the Del-Ray had room service? Is this the fat man’s lunch? And why is the Jell-O partially obscured by a piece of packaging or a bent plastic cup? Where, in short, was the art director?

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