BELLA VISTA -- The Bella Vista History Museum has found several ways to tell the story of the former resort becoming a city.
There's one collection giving a unique insight into the area -- a large binder full of postcards.
Postcards were probably sold in Bella Vista from its earliest days. They were a good marketing tool, said Xyta Lucas, co-president of the Bella Vista Historical Society. The Linebarger brothers -- the resort's second owners -- were all about marketing. The collection spans the Linebarger years, the Keith years and the Cooper years.
Many of the postcards have pictures of Wonderland Cave during the 1930s when it housed a nightclub. Not only are there pictures of crowds, both inside and outside, the performers are also featured.
The log cabin -- now the Artist Retreat Center -- is pictured, along with a series of photos of Lake Bella Vista and the structures once around it, including a three-level diving platform.
There are pictures of the first golf course in Bella Vista, a nine-hole course near the lake where some holes required a drive across what is now Bella Vista Way.
The Plunge, once the largest swimming pool in the state, is featured several times, along with the Sunset Hotel.
The more modern postcards show off the Country Club building, paddle boats and canoes on Lake Bella Vista and a "replica prairie schooner" pulled by mules.
Lucas acquired most of the postcards since she got involved with the museum. Some were bought from collectors. Some she found on eBay. Recently, she's focused on postcards used to send a message.
Almost all the postcard messages were written in cursive, although there are a few clearly printed by a child. Some of the messages are exactly what you expect to find on a postcard.
"We spent two nites and one day here at Bella Vista. Having a nice time. How are things at home?"
A few reveal why the visitors were in Bella Vista.
"Spending a three day trip here ... Living in a nice townhouse at no expense to us. Only our transportation. There was a short sales pitch."
A few people used the tiny writing space for business. One postcard featuring Bella Vista was sent back to Bella Vista to confirm a reservation. During the Cooper years, some postcards were evidently reminders for future trips. Others were sent ahead of travelers to report their schedule so their next stop would be ready for them.
A woman named Alice used a postcard to send her apologies to her friend, Mrs. Judge, for not getting together while in Bella Visa. Alice tried to see her friend and then to reach her by phone but failed. The last week of Alice's stay was just so busy, and evidently Mrs. Judge was busy, too. It's easy to imagine a bit of sarcasm in Alice's polite note.
Another tourist, Mary, told her friend Leita she picked cherries and ate so many she made herself sick.
"I've had lots of fun reading, mind you, I said only reading, the labels on whiskey bottles."
There's no explanation of why she would choose whiskey bottles for reading.
A postcard signed only with initials reads, "Hello, Gee aren't you surprised? Have been working in the factory as you have probably guessed. I think it's about over now due to the long drought."
The card is a view of the bluffs along the road, so there's no clue about what factory the sender worked at or why the drought affected it.
A woman named Donna asked her Aunt Ella and Uncle Bruce to not be mad at her for changing her route. She will see them later when mother visits.
All the postcards have a historic picture, but sometimes the message also gives a glimpse of what Bella Vista used to be. They can be seen at the museum when it opens.
NW News on 03/26/2020
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