Friday, July 31, 2009

The Western Wall, Jerusalem

I am a bit embarassed to admit I had to look up the significance of the Western Wall. I did not realize it is the holiest of Jewish sites in Jerusalem (or in any place, for that matter).

Check it out at

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Florida Welcome Station

One thing I've noticed about almost all the postcards I've looked at is very few of them have any dates or any copyright information on them. Hmm.

Here is a prime example. I know this postcard is not current (duh!), but the only way I can figure out when it's from is to try and identify the cars in the photo. The blue car looks like something from the early 60s.

It's definitely before state tourism departments got as slick as they are now. You can tell that by the (lack of) photo art direction on the front or the straightforward copy on the back.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Beheading Block from Tower of London

Okay, two London postcards in a row maybe isn't cool. But they are posted for very different rea
sons. (In the spirit of full disclosure, it's what I scanned into the laptop before leaving for vacation.)

This postcard makes me think of three things:

1) Sending postcards back to the office when on vacation. This is one of the things I miss about working in an office. I've found a lot of postcards to various companies from a variety of colleagues in my collection. At one time, colleagues were a primary source for collecting.

2) My friend (at the time colleague) that sent this is a copywriter/food writer, and we've always competed with each other in the pun area (mostly so we could engage in insane cackling). Both her insane cackling and bad puns made the card.

3) Dana Carvey's "Church Lady". For a time, "....I don't know. Who made me do it? Could it be SATAN?" was part of the popular vernacular. It's funny how phrases like this are ubiquitous for a time, then just seem to disappear in thin air.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Home Away From Home, For A Time

For a couple of years, I traveled a lot, often to London. I must have stayed in the Langham Hilton 20 or more times.

My favorite thing about this hotel is the staircase. It is very wide with a beautiful red carpet. The stairs themselves have a very low rise. You could run down them really fast, or glide down them, pretending to be British royalty. An old, elegant hotel like this evokes these kinds of actions, a least for me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Two More Colleges & Universities

My niece attends Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. She is the music director of the campus radio station, and absolutely loves it there. This must be a photo of graduation. She sent this to me as a thank you note after she and two friends came and stayed with us during spring break. We had a blast.

I don't know anyone attending the Citadel, but one of the college students to whom I send postcards attends the College of Charleston, and she's met a bunch of guys from the Citadel. Between that and playing on a women's rugby team, she's having a pretty good time. I also sent her a copy of my old "Women's Rugby Songbook". A total relic, but pretty funny. I think she liked it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ganesha in Leh, India

I worked at Caltech for a while, in the Department of Economics and Political Science. One of the economics professors was a big climber and trekker. This postcard is from him, off on one of his adventures.

Interesting depiction of Ganesha, the Hindu deity responsible for many things, but mostly for both creating and removing obstacles. That he sent this card makes sense, given the description of the trip he was on. Many, many obstacles.

For more on Ganesha, check out

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Paris At The Turn Of The Century, The Last One That Is

When my grandmother died, we found a scrapbook filled with postcards sent from Europe in the early 1900s. This is one of them, sent from Paris on July 2, 1900.

The card is addressed to Master Emery Doan, who was my grandfather. Many of the cards in the book are to him, from an Aunt. I can't quite read what her name was, perhaps Aunt Walle? Interesting that the handwriting almost looks like it is addressed to "Master Mary Doan".

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Real Matterhorn

The real Matterhorn, towering over Zermatt, Switzerland. Our friends, David and Deborah, had gone skiing there. The faux Matterhorn, in Disneyland, looks a lot like this. Only smaller.

In my family, almost anything can be a competition. One of our competitions, when driving from San Marino to Orange County Beaches, was who would see the Matterhorn from the freeway first. If you were busy looking for out-of-state license plates so you could punch someone, you might miss it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Palm Trees in Los Angeles

I think I might be the only person living in San Francisco who actually loves Los Angeles. Part of that is having grown up there. But part of loving LA is the palm trees. You can be on any freeway in LA and look out over the horizon - their little heads dot the landscape. A great example of this is in the movie "Chinatown". Pay attention to it next time you watch it.

This is an old postcard, probably one found in my grandmother's drawers. You can tell it's old because you don't see palm trees looking like this anymore, with the fronds left hanging down the trunks. Rats love to live there, so now the trees are all neatly trimmed - no more shaggy fronds. I don't know when that started, but shaggy and natural seems to have disappeared in a variety of places in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Machu Picchu, Peru

When I was 24, I traveled with my friend, Debra, all through South America. One of the highlights of this trip was visiting Machu Picchu. This is a postcard I sent to my parents and family during that time.

There happened to be a national strike in Peru when we were there, with riots and tank in the streets, and the complete shut down of much of the infrastructure, including the train to Machu Picchu. As you can imagine, many tourists rearranged their trips that year, opting out of Peru. However, we were traveling overland, and that wasn't something we considered. We were determined to get to Machu Picchu.

For a couple of days, we would go to the Cuzco train station, only to be told that yet again, the train would not be running that day. Finally, one morning we showed up and the train was preparing to leave, without much explanation as to when or why that day versus any other.

Our journey included staying in lots of very cheap hotels, often traveling by bus or hitchhiking and we were not on a fixed timetable or itinerary. For these reasons - planning and cost - there is no way we would have had a reservation to spend the night at the small hotel on-site at Machu Picchu. However, when we finally got to Machu Picchu, there was the opportunity to get a room, given that many of the reservations had been canceled due to the strike. I don't remember that we had anything with us beyond cameras and passports, but we went for it. We weren't sure there'd be a train the next day to get back to Cuzco, but decided it wouldn't be a bad place to be stuck and was worth the risk.

One of our better decisions. We were able to tour the grounds all that day, spend the night in the hotel (no electricity and not much food, again due to the strike), and get up at dawn to climb Huayna Picchu, which is the peak overlooking Machu Picchu. From there we could look down on the site, and see it with no people and no tour guides in view. I do remember being pretty happy when the train showed up, primarily to take the tourists at the site back to Cuzco.

If you look closely at the front of the postcard, you can see a little arrow pointing to the top of the peak. (If you click on the image, it will open up larger.) In re-reading the note I wrote my parents, I can see why my mom always says she was glad these postcards arrived after each of our experiences. Notice the casually thrown out line, "Debra and I almost died". So cavalier! As a parent now, I read these words and can't imagine receiving this postcard. (Sorry, mom.)

In case you're interested,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh Canada!

I've never been to Vancouver before, and often get confused between Vancouver, Canada and Vancouver, Washington. Both are supposed to beautiful.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I've been to London twenty or thirty times, almost always for business. I was there so often, it became difficult to find a postcard I hadn't already sent home. Here's one that shows a variety of classic London images.

The message reminded me that I was there on election day. It was fascinating. Everybody votes, but it's fast - you vote for the party. Then everybody goes to all night parties to wait for the election results. The next day, the results are in, and the new guy (in this case Tony Blair) moves in to 10 Downing Street. It's so FAST. I had to wonder how they had time to put up new towels and change the sheets.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


It's a bit of a challenge to keep to my postcard a day posting, when I'm on the road. But I made it, sliding in under the wire, after a 10-hour drive home from central Oregon.

In any case, here is a postcard from Uganda. My friend, Zanne, sent it when she was there to visit the clinic/organization founded by her father, to fight infectious diseases, particularly HIV. When her father died, she took up the mantle, and is now on the board of this organization. It's an incredible legacy for her father, and for her.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Flora and Fauna

And another thing. Flora and fauna. In this case, flora.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Art Cards

When I started sorting my postcards, I faced a categorization dilemma - should postcards of art be grouped in a country, particularly when the sender had visited the museum in which the art hung or should the art postcards have their own classification? I decided on the latter. I like that not only do postcards provide mini-geography lessons, they also give quick glimpses of art.
This postcard features a work by Rufino Tamayo, known as "the Picasso of Mexico". He is one of my favorites. There's actually a Tamayo Museum in Chapultapec Park in Mexico City. While I have visited that museum, I didn't send this postcard to myself. It came from a friend in high school who started collecting Tamayos long ago (and introduced me to the artist in the first place). I'm pretty sure he has at least one, if not two, Latin American art galleries in Los Angeles now.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Another one from the college series. My son attends college at Georgetown and he sent this to us before he came home for Christmas break. This is the view from one corner of the front lawn of the school.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bethany Beach, Delaware

My friends, Lorry & Jack, have an incredible beach house in Bethany Beach, Delaware. I've been lucky enough to visit them there every summer for the past 6 or 7 years. I'm not sure I'm going to make it this year, but Lorry sent this postcard to entice me.

Before I visited Bethany Beach, I never thought about Delaware having a beach area. In California, you hear about the Jersey Shore, the Outer Banks, Virginia Beach - but not a lot about the Delaware Shore.

In reviewing all my postcards from US locations, and sorting them into states, I found that I have postcards from all states with the exception of the following: Rhode Island (never visited, only driven through), North & South Dakota (never visited), Kansas (had a business trip there but must have forgotten to send myself a postcard), Vermont (I must have a postcard from there somewhere, but none in the pile), West Virginia (it is pretty out of the way), Indiana (never visited) and Nebraska (ditto). If anybody lives in/is going to these states, send me a postcard, please! Post a comment with your email and I'll send you my mailing address, in case you don't have it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rice Paddy Terraces in Philippines

There's a purpose for a description on the back of a postcard! Spell check. I can never remember how to spell "Philippines". It doesn't do the M-i-ss-i-ss-i-pp-i thing very fluidly.

This postcard is from my friend, Evelyn. She used to travel a lot, doing branding and design work for a variety of airlines. In this case, Philippine Airlines. It made me realize something we're losing - being very familiar with our friends' handwriting. Evelyn's handwriting is quite distinctive - I would recognize it anywhere. But when she sends me an email from Morocco, where she now lives (see for fun), I don't get that warm, friendly feeling that seeing her handwriting on a letter or postcard evokes.

One thing I like about this postcard besides the visual is the scalopped edges. Do you think that served a purpose? Something to do with post offices? Or was it just for fun?

Monday, July 13, 2009

San Francisco Institutions, No Longer In Existence

Nothing lasts forever. I suppose Carol Doda is still alive, but she's no longer performing. And Ciao restaurant has long been out of business. However, both live on in the form of postcard advertising.

Ciao restaurant was on Jackson, in San Francisco. It was an advertising and media lunch spot, and they had really good Italian ices served in the rinds of the fruits they were made of.

Carol Doda was one of the first topless dancers in San Francisco, I think. I went to her show once, when I was in college. My college roommate's dad had taken us to dinner, and we were joking around about going to see her show. He pulled a fast one on us and took us there! We tried to act cool, but I do admit to feeling a bit uncomfortable. As I recall, we saw the whole thing, complete with piano descending from the ceiling.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Birthday Balloons Over Florida

This postcard is from my friend Duke's mom, Ramona and this posting is to honor her. She died this year, but the postcard and message capture her so well. A total character, an adventurer and a wonderful wonderful spirit. I love that she spent her 65th birthday taking a hot air balloon ride in Florida, where she lived. Her sense of humor comes through loud and clear.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


In sorting my postcards, there are a lot from Hawaii. I suppose picturesque has a lot to do with that. This is one I sent to myself when our entire family went to the big island of Hawaii for my cousin's wedding. I particularly like the comment "Reagan trying to start a war in gulf". I guess that was on my mind at the time.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Republic of Niger

I went to graduate school at a place called The American Graduate School of International Management, Thunderbird for short. The student body was about half American, half from other countries. Many of the Americans had been in the peace corps, or had parents in diplomatic posts, or had lived outside the US for a variety of other reasons. My friend, Rick, had worked in West Africa and then returned there after graduate school. I have no idea what ever happened to him, but I remembered him when I came across this postcard. In it, he describes the salt mines of Bilma in Niger as "truly one of those forgotten hell hole corners of the earth". I'm not sure "palmeraie de Bilma" means "salt mines of Bilma", but I've got to go on what he says. Looking at the Wikipedia entry, it doesn't appear much has changed there in 25+ years. (

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Colleges and Universities

I send postcards to my son and his friends, many of whom are in college outside of California. One of the benefits of sending postcards is sometimes people send you one back. Here are a couple I received from two college freshmen to whom I send cards, one at Boston College, one at Cornell. I love the comment on the Cornell postcard (on the right) that says "without the snow". Written like a true Californian, getting his first taste of a New York state winter.

These postcards have inspired me to add an additional section to my postcard collection: colleges and universities. Don't have many yet, but someday....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Mapparium at Christian Science Church in Boston

The Mapparium is a huge glowing globe of the earth that you walk through. Except I remembered it as being called the "mappetorium". Hmmm. This must have been the first time I visited Boston. I sent this postcard to myself, sort of like a mini-journal, noting why I was there (focus groups, although I can't remember the product), the weather (hot and muggy), and different things I did while I was there. I do remember that the focus groups were at night which was why I could wander around the city as a tourist during the day. I was determined to visit the Christian Science Church, called the Mother Church by Christian Scientists, as both my grandmothers were Christian Scientists and I attended Christian Science Sunday school as a kid. The Mapparium was a wonderful surprise.

As I've been going through my postcards, it's been interesting to see the different addresses at which I've received postcards (I no longer live at the one above), and the different people who have sent postcards to me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bariloche, Argentina

I'll have to dig into my postcard archives to see if I can find a postcard I might have sent from Bariloche in 1978. At that time, I was traveling throughout South America.. We had traveled by boat/bus/boat/bus and boat from Chile into Argentina and were staying in the cheapest accommodations we could find. This postcard was sent recently from a fancy hotel there.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Camels in India?

I never imagined there were camels in India. But my friend, Andrew, went on a camel trek into the desert in India, I think in Rajastahn. It happens sometimes that the automated mailing marks on a postcard cover up the description or name of a place, and in this case the spelling is Rogistahn. Can't find that on google. (See card.) From his note and later descriptions of his travels, it sounds amazing.