Search Love Letter

My name is Sherry Dewane. Welcome to my blog. I hope you find the graphics and the stories as interesting as I.

Why a Love Letter to Arizona?  And why postcards?  And, PS – why am I doing this?

I was born in rural Wisconsin on a lake in the woods. For real. My family lived there until I was 12. After two Great American Road Trips to California during the 1960’s, my father decided that he was going to buy a hotel, in Phoenix, Arizona. On the second road trip, New Year’s Day, 1967 we stayed at the Stagecoach Inn which my parents would eventually acquire. They bought the hotel months later and we moved that summer. We sold the the property years later. I loved everything about it, the rose gardens, the spacious green lawns, the pool, bright umbrellas and the original section of 1930’s buildings.

When we moved, Phoenix and Arizona were a foreign land to me. Before we left Wisconsin, friends and family told us many things. As is usual with big change, there were naysayers, but there were also funny ideas. Friends at school told me there was nothing but cowboys and Indians. That seemed interesting to me on many levels. Tumbleweeds, six shooters, cactus, hot, no rain.

In fact, when I first saw the city at the age of 8, it was a revelation. I had a sense of elsewhereness, of otherness. It was so very different in every respect from rural Wisconsin. The physical environment, food, music, clothes, people. Other than cars and grass, there was no resemblance to my former life. I was fascinated.

Years went by, ebay was born and family nostalgia grew with our collective aging. I started searching ebay for postcards of the Stagecoach Inn. In the course of that search, I saw postcards from all the other hotels, motels, motor courts, inns and tourist camps of Phoenix. I also found the history of our property. I rediscovered my fascination with the state.

At the same time, I was looking for history and postcards of my great – grandparents hotel in rural Wisconsin. I saw a marked difference between the postcards coming from Arizona and the postcards coming from Wisconsin. Arizona was all about vivid blue skies, desert colors, the rock, the cactus, but it always came back to color. Vivid, striking, amazing, fascinating, enchanting color.

Why a love letter? I haven’t lived in Arizona for many years, but I am a frequent visitor. When I was a child, in Wisconsin, my family would go for drives in the car through the hilly countryside, farms, woods, lakes and rivers. I wondered, what is over that hill, at the end of the road, in the middle of that woods, across that river? Always wondering.

The tradition continued in Arizona and continues to this day. My dad and I explore Arizona on every trip. We drive roads, take turns and have successfully escaped GPS. We go places where cell phones and GPS are useless 21st century devices. We carry topo maps and road atlases. We visit ghost towns, abandoned mines, stagecoach stops and still I wonder. Who lived there, what made them stop here, why did the people who walked here choose this path? The post cards help answer those questions and provide color to my imagination. I have found them so incredibly fascinating that I want to share the stories.

Why the postcards? Why not a story? As I searched for old postcards, which I wanted originally for the pictures, I became intrigued by the postings on the back.  Yes, postings. In this blog I will explain more. People wrote home, to their sweethearts, moms, dads, grandparents and friends. I realized – these were the Instagram, Facebook, Twitter of their day. These postcards are the postings. People were discovering things. They were awed, amazed, startled, lonely, happy, relieved.

THANKSGIVING. JOKAKE. SALAD BOWL.

I am making my annual Thanksgiving plans, which almost always involve Arizona, no matter where I actually live.  There’s nothing like The Valley of the Sun in the winter. While astronomically speaking winter won’t arrive for almost another month, Thanksgiving, to me is part of winter.…...

FRED HARVEY. GLAMPING. WHIPPLE STATION.

Second post today, which is also Valentine’s Day and Arizona’s birthday!  I believe this postcard solves the mystery of my recent post entitled Tents. Dresses. Whipple Station. The moment I saw this card, I thought – my mystery card is solved. The men’s uniforms are strikingly similar,…...

TENTS. DRESSES. WHIPPLE STATION.

Hi All – writing today about a mystery postcard I picked up somewhere and what I believe is its sister. I am calling them sisters because the dresses are amazing. I’ve had an adventure attempting to figure out this postcard, which included writing to several friends, Arizona…...

PETRIFIED BISCUIT. PONY EXPRESS. SOUTH PASADENA.

To Love Letter Readers, Sherry Dewane here – finally, writing again. Today’s post made a trip from Holbrook, Arizona, to South Pasadena, California. My friend, Bianca, who currently lives in South Pasadena gave me this card. I don’t know and haven’t asked, but I suspect she found…...

MY DEAR MA. SQUIRREL WHISKEY.

“The grass is always green and the orange’s (sic) always bloom.” I start this post with a sentence from our writer. This is a charming card in every respect. Our writer sends the card from Bisbee, Arizona, October 10, 1912. Arizona had become a state a few…...

SATURDAY CLUB. APPLES. BONNETS.

As I write this post, I feel like I’ve found new friends, or old friends, or a friend lost in time. This card led me down a garden path to Hiawatha, Kansas. It appears our sender arrived in Phoenix on December 31, 1908 by train from Kansas. The…...

RACINE. LUCILLE. COMPUTERS.

Going back to my family’s hotel, the year now is 1963, about 8 years before my parents bought it. This postcard was sent March 2, 1963 from Ed and Lucille To Mr. and Mrs. Luedke in Racine, Wisconsin. “Saturday, March 2. “Sure is nice here & we are…...

TEDDY BEAR. THUNDER GOD. SUPERSTITION RUMBLING.

Dear Readers: It is spring and the desert is in glorious and exuberant bloom. Ocotillo, saguaro, prickly pear, roadside flowers, Palo Verde, Ironwood, indigenous and exotic. Pollen tinges everything pale yellow. Colors so vivid, bright, intense that I need sunglasses to look at the desert. These are the…...

WINTER WEARY BUSINESSMAN. TWA.

Dear Readers: While this postcard was never sent, I, nevertheless find a story here. This a Transworld Airlines 1950 promotion to the “Winter Weary Businessman” (which I love in so many ways!). “TWA Phoenix, Arizona – in the Valley of the Sun! Swimming and riding, hunting and fishing,…...

PEARL AND ETHEL AND GARDEN CLUBS

Postmarked January 27, 1956 Sent to Pearl Patterson, Brooklyn, Wisconsin “Temp between 75 and 80. “Dear Pearl; We got here safe and sound 4 hours late Wed morn 3:30AM. Beautiful weather and of all the oranges and grapefruit on trees it’s amazing. We will go to Phoenix sometime…...

MAN-BIRDS. AEROPLANES. VIPS.

The year is 1910, the place Phoenix, the event is billed as the Second Aviation Meet in America. As I research this card, I can literally feel the excitement in Phoenix. The newspapers are full of articles, ads, plays, activities. At the same time, I am stunned by…...

CASA BLANCA. GLORIOUS. OASIS.

This post is a little different, in that I am starting with my thoughts, rather than the postcard writer’s thoughts. When I was a kid, I would look at the dome sitting in the middle of Paradise Valley, the white walls, the lush palm trees and think, “what…...

PANCHO VILLA. MINERS AND MISS DUPONT. AND THE YMCA

How might you ask, are Pancho Villa, Miss DuPont, of France and the YMCA in Douglas, Arizona related and by the way – what exactly is a drilling match? These disconnected references are the magic that fascinates me about these used postcards. It is a moment in time,…...

WRIGLEY. BILTMORE. FRANK.

No, not that Frank (Lloyd Wright). Our postcard today shows the “Residence of P. K. Wrigley, Biltmore Estates, Phoenix, Arizona”. The writer says, “Well Ed we got as far as Phoenix and is a nice place will take in some trips all is going fine so far Frank”…...

GREETINGS. SAND. CODETALKERS.

April 19, 1941, Tucson, Arizona. “Greetings from Arizona Harold Bisch”, Sent to: Mar. and Mrs. AJ Hughes, in Springfield, Illionois. Our writer was brief indeed, but the card provides much more information. The card says, “WHIRLING LOG (GOOD LUCK) SAND PAINTING OF THE NAVAJO INDIANS “The Navajo Indians…...

COLOSSAL. BANDITS. CCC.

Colossal Cave near Tucson, Arizona Our postcard today lived its life, unsent, until now, as I post it. The caption says, “Colossal Cave near Tucson; was first used by the Indians as a place of refuge – then by two gun Western Bandits to cache their loot, opened…...

COWPONY. BOULEVARDED.

SALT RIVER HIGHWAY 60 ARIZONA “The Corral Globe Arizona Nov. 30, 1941 Dear Nellie: Hope you enjoyed your stay at Henrys. Nice and warm here. I cannot ride my cowpony as I am laid up with neuritis. Not so good. Best Regards Irven”  I am not sure of…...

Telescope. Canyon. Fashion.

Telescope in The Lookout, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. This is the second Fred Harvey/Grand Canyon/Telescope postcard. The Library of Love Letters, has a post entitled, Sometimes It’s Art, Sometimes It’s Whiskey.  This picture is taken in Lookout Tower – the same place, from another angle, similarly composed.…...

THELMA. RALPH. ICE CREAM.

Today’s card takes us to that wonderful food service invention once called a cafeteria. Today, these establishments are called other, sexier things like garden bars or buffets, or omelet and waffle stations – my favorite! In any case, all of these take care of those people with whom…...

GOLDWATER’S. VALENTINES. RATIFICATION.

Dear Readers, this is one of my favorite postcards and one of the most expensive I purchased. I had a self-imposed limit of a few dollars per card when I started my project, but this one seduced me into spending more. I saw this and looked at it…...

WELL ARE ANY OF YOU ALIVE?

The card begins with the question above and ends with the plea, “Now some of you take time & write a little.”   September 5, 1923, Miami, Arizona. From the time I moved to Arizona and heard the name of the town, Miami, I was puzzled. I knew…...

BLUE. BEACH. TEMPE

When I first saw this postcard, I thought the beach was a predecessor to Big Surf. Not Big Sur, but Phoenix’ actual surfing beach. Disambiguation – in 1969 Phil Dexter built a giant wave machine and park so that people could surf in the desert. It was awesome.…...

GRANDEST OF THE GRAND.

“Fort George BTE, June 18th1913 Dear Grace Just a couple of lines this picture shows a scow shooting the Grand Canyon. I do not know who’s it is but is a good picture, as I have seen some go through I am (word I can’t decipher) am going…...

CHRISTMAS. SWANKY. LUNCH

Scottsdale, Arizona December 28 Postmark: December 29, 1950 “Many thanks for lovely cards which arrived right on time and I could see were not free like this one, which I got last Saturday, when some friends from Berkeley dropped in on their way to Tucson and took us to…...

CLIFF DWELLERS. CONGRESS. VIEWS.

Home of the Cliff Dwellers. I don’t know enough to figure out where this photo was taken, but, these kinds of cliff dwellings are all over the Southwest. Their construction is remarkable, high, rugged crevices in cliffs, where apartment buildings lived, soaring high above the canyons below and…...

ROSES. TOMBSTONE. BANKS.

This card goes in a couple of categories. One of these is that I give up. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a few months, I’ve asked a ton of people. I sent it to the American Museum of Finance. I did get a response, but…...

GOLD. BURROS. OLIVE OATMAN.

As I’ve found with so many of these cards, many adventures present themselves. The writer sends this card September 15, 1912, the same date I started writing this post, just 106 years later. Oatman’s current population: 128 people, and a bunch of wild burros. The town was a typical…...

DARLINGS. FURS COATS. MARVELOUS.

December 17, 1951 The writer says: “Darlings – Drove 290 miles today through some desert and cactus, and finally arrived here. The weather is cold and fur coats are being worn. Am having a marvellous (sic) time seeing all the Indian stuff. From here on it will be…...

FREEDOM. RELIGION. MASTER BILL.

Master Bill probably received a post card a day after Mommy’s offer of a “fox tail for his Indian suit.” She says, “Daddy is better today. He is going to see some business firms. Love, Mommy” There must be a card somewhere dated a few days before the…...

MASTER BILL. HOPI SNAKE DANCE. WATER.

This is the first of two postcards sent to Master Bill. The post card says the following: “With the primitive people of the Southwest, water is the most previous of all elements. In a land of cloudless skies and waterless mesas, most of the ceremonies of these people…...

ARIZONA FREIGHTING OUTFITS

Blue skies, sunset colors, and green trees on this card intrigued me. In front of this lovely sky is a freighters line. The word itself, “freighters” is not a word that we hear today, but during this time period freighters were critical. During the late 1800’s, before railroads…...

SOMETIMES IT’S ART. SOMETIMES IT’S WHISKEY.

Some postcards are art. This is one of those cards. It is lovely, composed, and hints at a story all by itself. Are the man and woman a couple? Married? Father and daughter? Mother and son? Cousins? Traveling companions as part of a tour group? The front of…...

STANDING ON A CORNER IN WINSLOW ARIZONA

This is not just an anthem of the 1970’s, although it was that too. She’s not actually standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, but she is standing by the corner of the house in Winslow, Arizona. Winslow, Ariz. March 18, 1909 The postcard says: "Dear Christine: You…...

TURQUOISE

I love this postcard for the man and the jewelry – both what he is wearing and what he is making. Turquoise, coral, abalone, agate, jasper probably all provided the colors on his necklace.  Abalone was traded in the southwest since 1500 BC. Semi-precious stones were mined over…...

PAPAGO PARK

Covering Papago Park will require far more than my 700ish word limit, so I will cover high points in short form. This photo is from the inside of Hole in the Rock, a geological formation, which is a hole through the butte. Ancient peoples tracked sun movements inside…...

STAGECOACH MOTOR HOTEL #2

We are back to the Stagecoach and the second in the series of 7 postcards from our property. The postcard dates from the mid 1950’s. The picture is taken from the old buildings that I so fondly recall from our days at the hotel. I swear, when I buy my second…...

UNCLE E AND AUNT M

Barrio Libre, Tucson, Arizona As I see postcards, buy them, invest time and energy into blogging about them, I feel more and more that these, more than any other human artifact encapsulate time, place, culture and their intersections. One single postcard captures sender, recipient, place, time, culture and…...

FRED AND NELL’S GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP

March 13, 1924 from Fred and Nell to JJ Campbell. “Well, we are on the go again. The Wanderlust struck us again. We are on our way to New Orleans riding a motorcycle, camping this time. I ride tandem and carry motorcycle tent, camp equipment, etc. in side…...

THE CONCHO ROOM WESTWARD HO

Marlon Brando. Al Capone. Conchos. The Concho Room was a bar and ballroom in the Westward Ho Hotel in downtown Phoenix. I must say, I always knew that the hotel existed, but beyond thinking it resembled hotels in eastern cities, I didn’t pay much attention. Little did I…...

ORANGE BLOSSOMS AND CENTURY PLANTS

Arizona Flora This postcard was mailed in 1947 from Glendale Arizona to someone in Ohio, and talks about the orange blossoms in the valley. (The Valley of the Sun, not Valley as in Valley Girl!) Spring spoke to me from the orange trees in the valley, it came…...

CHALLENGE TO LASSIE

Tempe, Arizona This is a 1949 postcard, that says: “Looking North on Mill Street, Tempe, Arizona”. It was not written to anyone, which I miss. The postcard itself says “Tempe is a pretty little residential city only nine miles east of Phoenix. Arizona State College at Tempe, and…...

THE CAMEL BACK INN

Postmark 1950. "Dear Aunt and Cousins Here we are back out in the west on vacation for nearly a month have had a grand time. It sure gets into your blood we may decide to move out here some time as it is so nice out here. Hope…...

PEOPLE OF ARIZONA

I’ve been writing about places in Arizona and now it is time to write about the people of Arizona. This postcard has a single line message – “A Noble Bunch”. I am a little conflicted about Native Americans as subjects of postcards. The takeover of their land, first…...

THE GRAND CANAL

Phoenix and canals are linked in time. Phoenix, Arizona exists because of the canals, but even before there was a place known as Phoenix, people changed the landscape with canals. People have inhabited the area for 9,000 years. But, the Hohokam changed the landscape by controlling water from…...

SCOTTSDALE – THE WEST’S MOST WESTERN TOWN

Old Town Scottsdale, wasn’t Old Town at the time of this postcard. It was relatively new, although reminiscent of “old times”. At the time of this card, cowboys (and probably others) rode horses into downtown Scottsdale. Golf carts and uber have replaced those horses. On the right is…...

LOVIN AND WITHERS & GABLE AND LOMBARD

This post card is going to lead us all on a trip through time, place and Hollywood. Yes, Hollywood. Please stand by. My original attraction to this postcard was the mule train in front of the Lovin and Withers store. Then I read the postcard and I fell…...

BACK TO THE BILTMORE

This is one of the more surprising post cards I discovered on my treks through postcard land. This is a horse ring, with Piestewa Peak (formerly Squaw Peak) in the background. I lived in Phoenix for many years, and have visited twice that many years. I am very…...

PRESCOTT TRANSIT

Prescott, Arizona, one of the points from which my dad and I lose GPS, cell service and general focus. That is, unless we consider getting lost the actual focus. We often drive to Prescott and then venture on various roads – paved and unpaved. I learned something on…...

IT’S TIME TO TALK ABOUT THE GRAND CANYON

The first time I saw the Grand Canyon was on our First Great American Road Trip. I don’t remember getting there, although I remember the drive from there to Phoenix. I DO remember the startling nature of seeing it the first time. I was 8 years old, 1967.…...

ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN

The postcard starts: “Dear Vera:  Should have sent you my address before but as usual, I’m delinquent.” The beautiful Jokake Inn. I spent the middle part of my childhood, into adulthood two blocks from the Jokake Inn. It is such an odd thing to me – I never…...

CAMELBACK. COWS. CITRUS.

Camelback Mountain – 1911 This postcard is Camelback Mountain 1911. First, I noticed the cows. The second thing I noticed, is that Camelback is two words – Camel Back. The postcard is captioned “Salt River Valley”, which is where the valley is located. By the 1930’s the name…...

COCANUT GROVE MOTEL AND NO, THAT’S NOT A TYPO

This motel was a few miles from, and on the same street as my family’s Stagecoach Inn. I purchased this postcard for two reasons. First, the incredibly fabulous 1950’s woody on the left side of the card, parked, waiting to go on an Arizona adventure.  Second the…...

A FOREST OF GEMS

Pictured in this postcard is the Petrified Forest, located in northeast Arizona, near the Navajo reservation. I could chase this single postcard in so many directions, I hardly know where to start, so start I will. First of all, these trees grew 225 million years ago, the…...

PATIO OF THE ARIZONA BILTMORE

This is the Arizona Biltmore, an iconic, remarkable, unique resort in the Valley of the Sun. I’ve stayed here, in fact, in the room on the third floor, behind the blue umbrella, at the tower. Where to begin? This resort is unlike anything in Phoenix, or for…...

THE STAGECOACH MOTOR HOTEL

This is the postcard that started my fascination with the motel culture of Phoenix. That culture lives today and has grown into a resort destination with endless possibilities. My family believes that the original buildings of this property were built in the 1930’s. The hotel had a…...