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Collections: Her binders of postcards started with her family's demolished Phoenix hotel

Sherry Dewane shows off her Arizona postcard collection.
Amber Victoria Singer/KJZZ
Sherry Dewane shows off her Arizona postcard collection.

Sherry Dewane began collecting postcards nearly a decade ago. Her family owned the Stagecoach Motor Hotel in Phoenix. Years after the inn was sold and turned into a parking lot at Sky Harbor Airport, Dewane started searching for old postcards of her family’s demolished hotel.

Maybe it was fate, and maybe it was recommended items on eBay, but once Dewane started buying a few postcards from the 1880s into the 1950s, she couldn’t stop. She lives in LA now, but makes regular trips to Arizona to visit family and hunt for postcards.

She paid a visit to The Show's studio recently, along with almost all of her postcard collection: five large binders tucked into a large blue suitcase. And she explained – among other things – why she doesn’t want to know how many postcards she owns.

Full transcript

My name’s Sherry Dewane and I collect postcards, but only from Arizona.

I don’t live here now, but I love Arizona. I just, I find it endlessly fascinating. So I have a blog, it’s called alovelettertoarizona.com, it is mostly about the people who sent and received the postcards. And I’ve run into some really cool stuff.

These two cards, they’re both sent to the same person in New York, same address, one day apart from each other, sent to a child named Master Bill Richmond, who lived on Riverside Drive. It’s a mom writing to her son about this road trip that she and her husband are taking. Dad’s a businessman of some kind and has meetings. And about a month after I wrote these, I got an email from a woman in Brooklyn. She was at a flea market, and bought a vintage handbag that had a third postcard written to the same kid in the series inside this handbag and she didn’t know it. She got home, she opened it and I guess she was Googling around and found my blog.

This is my favorite ever card. The front of it’s not that exciting, it’s a cotton gin and cotton processing. So I call this one Fred and Nell’s Great Adventure. March 13th, 1924, from Fred and Nell to someone named J.J. Campbell.

"Well, we are on the go again. The Wanderlust—" capitalized — "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, et cetera, inside car, having a fine trip. This is a nice little desert city. 50,000 inhabitants. It has street cars and everything. Wouldn’t like to live here. Too hot. With best wishes to you and your mother. Sincerely, Fred and Nell."

These are interesting. There were photographers who would go around and take pictures of individual people that you could then buy and use as a postcard to send to family and friends. Here’s this woman with her dog. You can see sheep in the background, she’s by the corner of her house. Can you imagine what a, what a day this was? And then to have your picture on a postcard that you can send to people? This didn’t happen every day. So the woman who wrote this postcard is the woman in the picture, and she is standing, this is from Winslow, Arizona, I’m not making this up, she said, "I’m standing by the corner of the house in Winslow, Arizona." Yep! it can’t get cooler than that, right?

So she writes it to a child, Christine Weinrich, at the Hasell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas.

"Dear Christine, you will recognize the contents of this picture. It is by the corner of the house … I am feeling fine now and beginning to get out. Papa hurt his hand a month ago, but he didn’t pay much attention to it. Tuesday night he scarcely slept a bit and he’s had to lay off yesterday. And today, I don’t know how much longer, I think there is a sliver of iron in it." That’s the card.

The one that I’m holding right now, this guy, I believe, is a miner, and he sent it to his friend in British Columbia, and he talks about Haley’s comet. The picture on the front is a dance girl, and printed on the bottom, it’s something, "we’re waiting," but this guy scratched out the "we’re waiting" and said "she’s waiting."

And he says, "she’s waiting for you to come back to dear old Globe." And then he writes from Globe, May 16th, 1910, ‘If you get this okay, Haley’s Comet will have done passed us."

So he’s literally writing to this guy, you know saying, if you get this, we’re still here. And then he carries on, "she’s getting pretty hot down this way … the worst is yet to come."

I actually don’t want to count them because it has turned into this terrible obsession. Not an obsession, I have a lot. I mean we’re seeing here, there’s one, two, three, four, five, what is that, a 3- or 4-inch binder full? Three to a page?

Arizona has great stories.

KJZZ’s The Show transcripts are created on deadline. This text may not be in its final form. The authoritative record of KJZZ’s programming is the audio record.

Amber Victoria Singer is a producer for KJZZ's The Show. Singer is a graduate of the Water Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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