Skip to main content
Vanishing Postcards

Vanishing Postcards

By Evan Stern
Vanishing Postcards is a documentary travelogue in which listeners are invited on a road trip exploring the hidden dives, traditions, and frequently threatened histories that can be discovered by exiting the interstates. Named one of the Best Podcasts of 2021 by Digital Trends.
Listen on
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Breaker Logo


Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


Currently playing episode

14. Postcards from Ghosts - "Weeping Women and the Ghoulish Side of Galveston"

Vanishing Postcards

15. Postcard from Fort Worth - "Stockyard Songs and Stories"
In this final episode of Vanishing Postcards' inaugural season, we pay a visit to Fort Worth's famed Stockyards. A historic district where western identity is embraced without the slightest hint of a wink, here rodeos are hosted each and every weekend, while crowds clamor for the fajitas at JT Garcia's before hitting the dance floor at Billy Bob's. But more than party central, it's probably the only place you can count on seeing longhorn steers paraded through the streets, and take pleasure in introducing you to a few good people who are making The Stockyards' history a tangible experience through stories, songs and honest to goodness work. Fort Worth Stockyards The Cowtown Opry Miss Devon Dawson and "Outlaw" Jessie Robertson
October 28, 2021
14. Postcards from Ghosts - "Weeping Women and the Ghoulish Side of Galveston"
It deserves mentioning that today's episode features visits to not one but two haunted houses, a cat that's likely lived more than nine lives, and the tale of a spirit that's rumored to wander the banks of the Rio Grande. Whether you're a skeptic or a believer, the adrenaline we experience when hearing spooky tales has a magical way of bringing us closer. Beyond this, ghost stories also often provide reminders of our history, and enable some to confront the fears and demons that lurk in our own imaginations. Many of these elements are at work in the fables featured in today's episode. Above all else, they're also pretty darned fun...  Historic Galveston Ghost Tours Charles Adams Mansion Xavier Garza
October 14, 2021
Introducing: "Fascination Street"
We're pleased to introduce our listeners to Fascination Street, an interview podcast hosted by Texas based broadcaster, Steve Owens. "I'm fascinated by stories," says Owens. "Walk with me as I share them." In his more than 250 episodes, Steve has spoken with a diverse roster of individuals including the departed Ed Asner, Tiger King's Carole Baskin, humorist Kinky Friedman, and recently Vanishing Postcards' very own Evan Stern. In this excerpt, Evan shares a bit about his personal background, and creative journey that led to the creation of Vanishing Postcards. To hear the entire interview, and check out more of Steve's many engaging offerings, find and follow Fascination Street wherever you get your podcasts.  Fascination Street
October 7, 2021
13. Postcard from Oakville - "Dobie Dichos and Legends in Live Oak County"
The village of Oakville sits hidden in plain sight along an isolated stretch of I-37 between Corpus and San Antonio. Founded in 1856 by a hearty group of Irish settlers, at its  zenith this one-time stagecoach station boasted a population of 400, claimed seven saloons and was a notorious site of brutal frontier justice. But while one could perhaps get away with calling this tiny community a ghost town, each year some of Texas's finest writers gather here to share stories under the stars in homage to Live Oak County's great Poet Laureate- J. Frank Dobie. Featuring a retelling of one of Dobie's great campfire legends, Sancho's Return, this episode invites listeners to experience the magic of this unique celebration of western letters now hailed as "The Greatest Little Literary Festival in Texas."  Dobie Dichos Donna Ingham Lee Haile
September 23, 2021
12. Postcard from Rosenberg - "The Boldness of Black Cowboys"
Mention the word “cowboy” today and you might think of Gary Cooper in High Noon, or Gene Autry singing under “starry skies.” Indeed, one can’t overstate the impact Hollywood, comic books, and showmen like Buffalo Bill played in shaping the mythology of the American West. What is rarely reflected in too many of these depictions, however, is that in the 1800s, alongside countless Mexican vaqueros, one out of every four cowboys were black- many of them ex  slaves. In this episode, we’ll introduce you to two extraordinary cowboys, Larry Callies and Myrtis Dightman Jr., who are not only working hard to change perspectives surrounding these narratives, but whose stories are epic on their own terms. Prairie View Trail Riders Association
September 16, 2021
11. Postcard from Galveston - "Memories of the Maceos"
While garden clubs and hotel brochures are quick to remind visitors of Galveston’s Gilded Age, few seem to acknowledge that in the more recent past this beachfront city provided a luxurious playground where the likes of Sinatra and Alice Faye flocked to gamble and dance at hotspots like The Balinese Room. Featuring stories of the Maceo brothers who once dominated this island’s nightlife, and memories of a few who experienced these good times first hand, our latest episode takes listeners on a trip back to a time and place known as “The Free State of Galveston.” Maceo Spice Kimber Fountain Peter Mintun - piano
August 26, 2021
10. Postcard from Houston - "Wasting Time at The West Alabama Ice House"
Houston is a place that's rich in diversity and innovation. It readily embraces modernity and is less burdened by the weight of tradition one feels in other southern cities. This can be wonderfully liberating. At the same time, many argue its embrace of the new makes it challenging to define. "Houston has a bad habit of destroying our history," one resident confessed to us. But if there's one place that flies in the face of this town's sleek, steel and glass uber-developments, it's The West Alabama Ice House. Opened in 1928 on an unremarkable corner in Montrose, this low frills, outdoor, dog friendly, picnic table lined beer joint not only straddles the past and present of Central Houston, but might even provide a few lessons worth considering as this Gulf Coast metropolis continues its march forward.   West Alabama Ice House   To see David Richmond's documentation of Houston ice houses, and some of the speculative designs they've inspired, check him out on Instagram. 
August 12, 2021
Bonus - Bobby Earl Smith Remembers Freda and the Firedogs
An elder statesman of Austin's music scene, Bobby Earl Smith is perhaps best known as a founding member of Freda and the Firedogs. The band that helped launch the career of legend Marcia Ball, they packed houses at The Armadillo and Split Rail, and when writing of them in 1972 The Statesman gushed, “It would be difficult to over-praise Freda and the Firedogs. This is a great bunch of youngsters, both personally and musically. They stick closely to the traditional and their brand of country music is pure listening pleasure.” In celebration of the vinyl reissue of their much delayed debut album, we're sharing this special bonus episode in which Bobby Earl recounts stories of the group's formation, and professional journey, accompanied by a selection of original recordings.
August 5, 2021
9. Postcards from Country Stores - "Crassness in Castell, Legacies in Ledbetter"
The Castell and Stuermer Stores are separated by about 160 miles and sit on opposite ends of Central Texas. Their hours can hardly be described as regular, nor do they boast expansive aisles dedicated to rice, face wash, or Greek yogurt. Yet, they help bridge the past of the communities they serve to our present, and provide spaces for fellowship that are essential for different, but important reasons. We'll learn about why this is by sitting down with their respective owners who share stories both touching, humorous and wild- One of which, the tale of a certain rooster, is unlike anything we've ever heard... 
July 22, 2021
8. Postcards from Brownsville and San Antonio - "A Tale of Two Tacos"
More than being delicious, food can bring people together, heal the body and soul, and is intertwined with generations of history and tradition. Today, we’re gonna dig into some of this by getting a taste of South Texas. We’ll start at its end point in Brownsville, then visit its gateway in San Antonio. Along the way, we’ll see what a good meal can tell you about a place, but best of all, hear from the folks doing the cooking. You could say this is a tale of two cities, but it’s really a tale of two tacos.  Vera's Backyard Bar-B-Que  Los Barrios Restaurants
July 8, 2021
7. Postcard from The Rio Grande Valley - "Community and Conjunto"
Born of the blending of cultures in South Texas, the music of conjunto tells a uniquely American story. In this episode, we'll take a trip to its birthplace in San Benito, where we'll tour the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and learn of its origins from the Avila family whose patriarch, Rey, dedicated his life to preserving this art form's history. We'll also head over to nearby McAllen where we'll catch a performance from accordion prodigy Rodney Rodriguez at La Lomita Park, the venue built by famed performer and elder statesman, Pepe Maldonado. 
June 24, 2021
6. Postcard from The Hill Country - "Picking Peaches in Fredericksburg"
While Texas summers are famously brutal, they are not without their pleasures. Towards that matter, few joys are as delicious as peach season. In this episode, we'll take a trip to The Hill Country at the peak of the harvest to sample the bounty and get to know the extraordinary families who have farmed these crops for generations.  Gold Orchards- Vogel Orchards- Jenschke Orchards- This episode's piano selections were performed by Kathleen Landis
June 10, 2021
5. Postcards from Museums - "Conspiracies, Curiosities, and Coffins!"
Museums are important. They're places where we can explore our heritage, and learn about culture, history and ideas in environments that foster conversations. Say the word, and palaces of civilization like The Met, Prado or Louvre often come to mind. In this episode, however, we'll criss cross the state of Texas to visit a few you've probably never heard of. Sites featured include The Billy The Kid Museum in Hico, The Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemarata in Austin, and Houston's Museum of Funeral History.
May 27, 2021
4. Postcard from East Austin - “Bygones and Barbecue”
In a fast-changing city, no neighborhood has undergone a greater transformation than Austin's East Side. Historically African-American, and once neglected, today espresso bars have replaced convenience stores and boutique hotels tower over long vacant lots. But what is left of what had been, and what do those who grew up here feel about all of this? In this episode, we'll take a trip to the other side of I-35 to ask questions like these. Along the way we'll hear some raw, unfiltered answers, get a history lesson at The Carver Museum, and revisit a few memories. We'll also see what's cooking at Sam's BBQ, and chat with owner Brian Mays who, acting on principle, said no to a five-million-dollar buyout in order to keep his pit running.  UPDATE- Please note that a source used for this episode misidentified Ben Wash as the original builder of the property at 900 E. 11th Street. It was, in fact, initially built in 1964, and housed a number of establishments prior to the opening of Ben’s Long Branch. We apologize for this error. Nevertheless, Mr. Wash remains the building's longest serving tenant.
May 13, 2021
Bonus - The Poetry of Hoot Gibson
While this series has introduced us to countless extraordinary individuals, in terms of personality, few have proven as expansive as cowboy renaissance man James E. "Hoot" Gibson with whom we shared a beer at Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar. Considering this, it only felt right to give him some extra time to shine, and are honored to share this special bonus episode in which you'll hear a bit more of his life story, but best of all, some poetry.  To read some excerpts from Hoot’s journals, and the account of his Canadian odyssey, consider ordering a copy of “Riders on the Storm: The True Story of the Eye Reckon Freedom Ride” by contacting its author, Mary Allyce at- (Photo credit Marshall Clayton)
April 29, 2021
3. Postcard from Bandera - “Downstairs at The Silver Dollar”
In Germany they have biergartens, and in Mexico they have cantinas, but Texas has honky-tonks. What is a honky-tonk? In simple terms, most will tell you it's just a beer bar with live music, and a little sawdust on the floor. In talking with the bartenders, musicians and locals at Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar, however, it's clear this place, now the oldest continuously operating honky-tonk in Texas, means a great deal more. We'll hear some music, a few tall tales, and discover along the way that while Bandera may have been built around a courthouse square, this basement venue is its true heart and soul. 
April 22, 2021
2. Postcard from Seaton - "Sundays at Sefcik Hall"
Seaton, TX hasn’t had a post office since 1907, and as of last count, its population hovered somewhere around 40. Situated on a lonely stretch of highway, about ten miles east of Temple, it’s not on most maps and is easy to miss. Yet, on Sundays, this town comes alive when couples gather, as they have for nearly 100 years, to dance at Tom Sefcik Hall. We’ll spend an evening getting to know the family that’s kept this place running for generations, share both laughs and tears with a few regulars, and learn about how spaces like these shaped Texas culture as we know it. We’ll even get a little lesson in Czech!
April 15, 2021
1. Postcard from West Austin - "Drinking at The Dry Creek"
A beer at Austin's Dry Creek Cafe will only cost you $3. What’s more, at the time of our visit their bartender, Angel, was only the third to work there since 1953. We’ll swap stories with her over a cold one, learn about the cedar choppers who once drank here from author Ken Roberts, and hear Bobby Earl Smith perform the murderous love ballad this salty joint inspired. We’ll also talk about the infamous Sarah, who was named in her obituary “the meanest bartender in Austin,” and explore the nearly seven decades of history this hidden dive, now surrounded by mansions, has borne witness to.
April 8, 2021
Introducing: Vanishing Postcards
From the shores of Galveston to the dance halls of The Rio Grande Valley, join host Evan Stern on a journey deep into the heart of Texas where we'll hear stories from people in places that don't often make the pages of glossy travel brochures.  Alternately touching and humorous, "Vanishing Postcards" is an enriching listening experience, perfect for when you need a breather, but don't have the time or luxury of hitting the open road. Stay tuned and subscribe!
December 11, 2020