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This is an unusual collection of cards. May Phelps was the daughter of Lieutenant Commander Harry Phelps who was a Navy JAG Officer that was stationed in Washington D.C. and was possibly later assigned to the Naval Academy on his next tour. His daughter May received cards from Naval Officers and some Army Officers from 1905 through the cruise of the Great White Fleet and provide a unique window of the Navy and how postcards were used to stay in touch and make acquaintances over a long period of time. For May, a young midshipman named F. J. Cleary seemed to be the most interested.
The initial cards of this collection are 2-5 years before the cruise, but interesting. They are from a variety of ports around the world and from different naval officers. Some of the highlights of this group are the card from Venice from July 1903, the two cards from Japan in 19006, Mount Etna 1906, and the Chinese execution mailed 1906.
Each of them were posted at local post offices. In general it seem that May attended many balls and events where she met young officers who later corresponded with her and sent postcards. Many of the cards do not provide any message which was typical. Personal expressions were generally kept for letters so as others could not determine the relationship.
"Was so very, very glad to get your letter. May dear and please don't make it our last. Am finished about Italy. Like Florence and Venice best yet." July 6, 1903
Eruzione dell' Etna 1892, "We had a very good view of this going through the straits" posted in Gibraltar May 5, 1906
October 19, 1907 - Annapolis, Dress Parade of Midshipmen - Naval Academy. Dear Mazie: Am sending you some films, also a print of each, from which you can see if you wish some printed. When you have finished with them, will you please forward them to Aunt Lilly directing her to have some printed if she wishes, then send the films and prints to Flossie. Gustapher"
San Francisco March 1906 - Daibutsu at Kamakura - "Bo't in the shadow of things. Here are my best regards my dear, Alfhorn. H. F. E. alias Squigie"
Many of the cards she received were photo postcards of ships from the Enrique Muller series with writing describing the ships in textbook fashion. F. J. Cleary sent these card to May and to another young lady, though I am not sure of what the relationship was and why they are both in the same collection. Some of these cards had newspaper clipping from the Annapolis paper. "I know that you would love to join the fleet. As you can't do that at present I am going to send the fleet to you. Not as a fleet but singly, F. J. Cleary"