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home : news : state news free December 15, 2019

11/5/2019 11:06:00 AM
Letter sent to California is back in Mattoon 110 years after it was sent
Dave Forpay
Journal Gazette & Times-Courier

CHARLESTON, Ill. (AP) — In 1909, someone named “Harry” took the time to type out greetings and an address and touch base with acquaintances two-thirds of a country away.

“How do you like California by this time?” Harry inquired from Charleston, also saying he received the message from those to whom he was writing, Mr. and Mrs. C.D. Linn of Pasadena, California.

Now, 110 years later, the postcard with those greetings and a picture of what was then the Charleston High School building has made its way back to where it started.

Charleston school district Superintendent Todd Vilardo said the district office received the card in the mail about a week ago, along with a letter from the sender, who does such things on a regular basis.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that somebody would take the time to send this postcard from so long ago,” Vilardo said.

Opening with the Shakespearean quote “time has come ‘round,” the letter and card came from Lowell Joerg of Stockton, California.

He said he turned 91 years old in June and is “still going strong as far as I know.”

Joerg said he found the postcard in an antique shop and thought he’d “send it home where it can be appreciated.”

Charleston hasn’t been alone among Joerg’s recipients. According to one account, he’s been doing the same sort of thing with other postcards depicting other locations for nearly 30 years.

The building shown on the postcard was in the location of the current Jefferson Elementary School at 801 Jefferson Ave. It wasn’t until 1954 that the high school opened where it is now, 1615 Lincoln Ave.

While the building on the postcard somewhat resembles the current Jefferson building with its arched doorway and multiple stories, it’s not the same building that’s there now.

Vilardo can tell you that because, after the postcard came, it motivated him to do a bit of research about history of the district’s high school buildings.

“I was excited,” he said. “It took me on this journey learning more about the various buildings.”

So, as it goes, the building shown on the postcard wasn’t the first one at that location. The first was built in 1868 but burned down in 1898 and was rebuilt two years later.

The second was the building the postcard shows and it stood until 1927, when it burned down as well. It was replaced a year later by the one there now; additions have been added since.

Another bit of Charleston history can be seen on the back of the postcard: Lindy’s Racket Store is listed as where it was originally purchased.

Vilardo said it was “noteworthy” that Joerg saw the importance of heritage and how it should be preserved. He said he plans to respond to Joerg’s letter and there are plans to display the postcard at either the school district office or CHS.

Tries at reaching Joerg to talk about his hobby didn’t work out, but several reports of his efforts can be found with an online search.

A 2015 story from the Stockton, California, Record newspaper said Joerg also collects stamps. He found some of his stamps when they were still attached to postcards so his “unique hobby...just came to my mind,” it said.

It said he started in 1990 and has sent cards all over the country, often receiving replies from the recipients.

The letter with the CHS postcard ended, as does many of his correspondences, with his calling his hobby “a re-distribution of happiness.”

“Our world sure needs it,” he said.


Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette,

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