John Swanson

Nina Remembered

Nina smiling, January 2005

Nina Swanson, January, 2005

Collector and Postcard Dealer

Nina began collecting postcards with cats in the early 1970's as a diversion so that she wouldn't be bored when accompanying me to stamp shows. Her appreciation for things of beauty was evidenced in the way she built her collection. The pleasure she found in shopping and keen eye for quality also was applied to postcards. Nina soon expanded her collecting interests and also bought accumulations when they were available.

Nina and I began selling stamps and postal history at local small shows in 1990. Postcards were a minor sidelight. By 1993 the situation was completely reversed. We were selling only at postcard shows with stamp related items a minor part of our stock. Nina was eager to learn all she could about her trade, absorbing all the knowledge available, in particular she creditied Roger LaRouque as her mentor. Nina's interest in the beauty of Victorian images continued to grow with her collection expanding to advertising trade cards, Valentines, and die cuts.

For the next 14 years we averaged over 20 weekend postcard shows a year, mostly in California but also traveling to the Northwest and Arizona. Nina was a loved member of the postcard community. She always had a warm greeting for everyone and took care to say goodbye to her fellow dealers at the end of every show.

A beautiful fan from Nina's collection.
A beautiful fan from Nina's collection.

Click here to see the variety of paper collectibles we sold and Nina collected.

Tennis Player and League Manager

Nina and I met playing bridge shortly after she moved from New York to West Los Angeles. Four years later we moved south. Shortly thereafter, one of her new friends asked her if she worked or if she played tennis. Evidently those were the only two options for women in Mission Viejo. Commuting to Century City where she had been an administrative assistant at Fox was out of the question, so she became a tennis player. After starting tennis lessons she announced, "We'll play tennis together". Being a good husband I replied, "Certainly, dear", knowing it was a ridiculous idea because she was athletically inept. Amazingly, she quickly became adept. So much so that she soon entered us in a mixed doubles tournament. As I remember, without asking me. We lost the first set 6-0 but managed to recover and win the second set. It was the first of many very enjoyable times we had together playing.

Nina had never been a true competitor at bridge. She played for fun. It was different with tennis. We were playing social tennis one Sunday against another couple, a typical event. The usual format was to play three sets and visit a bit afterwards, perhaps over lunch. This particular day we won the first two sets easily. Before the third set Nina turned to me and said, "Don't let up!"

Nina became captain of her league team, then manager of her division, and after a couple of years, director of the entire Hill and Harbor Tennis league (since renamed Pacific Sun Tennis League), which had about 1600 members in Orange County. She took on the demanding position again a couple of years later. It was a task which took an enormous amount of time (without compensation, of course.) She helped rewrite the league by-laws during that time and became a consultant to the succeeding directors over the next few years. She also worked out the schedule for the matches for the entire league ten years.

Many Other Talents

Nina proved that it was possible to work and play tennis at the same time. She took on one of the more obscure jobs in the world by becoming an agent for a company which hired people to count patrons at movie theatres. She covered about 40% of the United States. I offered to help her keep her roster of potential counters on the computer but she had her notebooks with names and locations and never had a problem. I consider myself quite knowledgeable in geography, but she ended up knowing more obscure cities in the western U.S. than I could imagine. She had to quit the job when she started treatment for lung cancer. It was simply too difficult to make all the calls, talk, not to mention all the additional reporting and paperwork. She had taken only a couple of months off when she was being treated for breast cancel five years earlier.

Somewhere along the line she found the desire and time to make painted T-shirts and sweaters. The extended family and many friends were outfitted. She sold a few at local swap meets but it was not intended as more than a hobby. She also knitted blankets, keeping friends, family (and me) warm.

Nina was a shopper without peer. She was so thoughtful that every present seemed to be perfect. I seriously suggested that she make a career as a personal shopper.

Nina even became a computer expert, answering questions for her less experienced friends. This aspect of her life got off to a slow start. She ordered a new computer for me and when asked if she wanted a floor model she answered, "No, he works at a table."

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Last update: June 22, 2009