At Chicago’s Printer’s Row Lit Fest this past weekend, I didn’t look at a single rare, antique, or otherwise important book from the stacks upon stacks. A tent crammed with vintage ephemera (charming old Valentines, state maps and hundreds of postcards) was enough to hold my attention.
There were motel postcards from the 60s (the architecture left something to be desired, but the kitsch factor was high); postcards with colleges; postcards with countries, animals, airlines and, get this, insane asylums. The categories were endless and varied.
I resisted purchasing a 1950s card spotlighting a new addition to the Brookfield Zoo—an adorable baby gorilla (filed under Gorillas in the G box, naturally)—but I did plunk down for a card featuring Northwestern University ’s Annie May Swift building, the origin of Pat’s WNUR jazz show in college. I also walked away with a card depicting the Czech town of Karlovy Vary, which brought back memories of our visit there last summer.
Karlovy Vary is known for two things: its spa culture (it’s the site of magical, medicinal waters) and its International Film Fest (a mini, mini Cannes, if you will).
While our trip was a bit thorny (we couldn’t get tickets for single film, nor a seat at any restaurant), the town itself was charming. Its buildings were tiered along the hillsides, painted in rich pastels the color of Laduree macarons and adorned with icing-like accoutrement. Steam rose from the mineral-dense Tepla River. Locals and visitors hunted for stars.
The 2008 festival attraction was Robert (or as I referred to him the whole trip, “Bob”) DeNiro. He spoke outside the Hotel Thermal–a true throwback to the 70s. At the time my postcard was sent, it was a flame-haired beauty who must have piqued the interest of fans outside the glam Grandhotel Pupp:
Hello there! Spending the day here. We drove out with friends of my Aunt’s. Town is beautiful. Best resort I’ve seen as yet. Too bad I couldn’t spend a week here. Rita Hayworth is here also. Regards, Mil
Very little has changed, it seems, which makes the town so much more endearing. I’m not sure where I’ll display my Lit Fest souvenir, but I treasure the moment in time it captures.
Karlovy Vary then…Front of postcard
Photo from Summer 08