By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 05, 2005 at 5:35 AM

{image1}We all have things we love and hate about Milwaukee, but complaining and focusing on the negative leads nowhere. So, in this edition we highlight an issue that we think needs to be addressed and discussed.

What sucks: Milwaukee postcards, for the most part, are really tacky.

Why this sucks:

For nearly 80 years, Milwaukee was home to two major postcard publishers: the L.L. Cook Co. and the E.C. Cropp Co. Together, the two businesses produced thousands of cards that were sent -- and collected -- all over the world.

Today, Scofield, Inc. in Menomonee Falls distributes many of the cards seen in local drugstores and airports. Many of the cards are decades old and of questionable taste. Why is this?

William Jacobs, the owner of Scofield, Inc. since 1997, agrees that many of the cards are silly or aesthetically unpleasing, but they serve a need.

"When I first bought the company, I tried to discontinue some of the older cards thinking they were completely ridiculous, but (business owners) kept asking for them, claiming some of the 'worst' were the best-selling cards," says Jacobs.

Scofield's most popular postcards include the one with a primate holding a beer (pictured) and the close-up of a mosquito splattered with "The Mosquito: Wisconsin's State Bird." Some are clearly outdated and/or have gaudy neon lettering.

"They're horrifying," says local photographer Francis Ford, as he sifted through a stack of Brew City postcards, including one with a close-up of a cow's face splashed with the words "Having an udderly good time in Wisconsin." Yikes.

{image2}From a postal standpoint, postcards also serve a practical need.

"Because postcards have to be durable enough to withstand the vagaries of postal services worldwide, colors used in postcards are often exaggerated or enhanced," says Max Yela, head of the UWM library's special collections department. "And enhanced color, depending on context and how exaggerated it is, is often associated with the tacky."

UWM's Golda Meier Library stores the state's largest historical collection of Milwaukee postcards called "Greetings from Milwaukee." The collection confirms that local postcards have had similar themes for decades, primarily cows, cheese, skylines and beer steins.

However, Jacobs says postcards are a dying form of correspondence because of e-mail and e-cards, and that many vacationers avoid them because they require a postcard stamp. Perhaps they should be sold with pre-paid postage attached?

Most postcard art is corny -- not just Milwaukee's -- but it seems "udderly" wrong for postcards to disappear forever. Luckily, those on vacation will always want to remind coworkers that while you're drafting memos in a cubicle, they are day drinking on a beach that's a million miles away.

What you can do to make it not suck? Not much, because there's a market demand. People have grown to accept postcards to look a certain way and often the corniest cards are the biggest sellers.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.