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This California retiree collects — and returns — old postcards

Lowell Joerg says he ‘likes to send history’ through the mail

A smiling older man holds postcards
Lowell Joerg displays some postcards that will soon join his “redistribution of happiness” project.

Like a lot of people, Lowell Joerg collects old postcards, except he doesn’t hold onto them.

The 95-year-old Stockton, CA, retiree mails his finds to the places they depict — a longtime hobby he calls his “redistribution of happiness” project.

“I have seen lots of changes over the last century. I like to send history,” Joerg said.

Last year, Joerg came across a postcard that shows the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, DC. The building once served as the Post Office Department’s headquarters, so Joerg mailed it to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

“I said to myself, ‘By golly, I think I’ll send it back to where it can be appreciated. Heritage is important,’” Joerg wrote.

DeJoy wrote back and thanked Joerg, who was surprised — and delighted.

“Maybe 2 out of 10 people will reply to me,” he said.

Joerg remembers growing up in the 1930s, when postcards were in their heyday.

“Sending postcards in those days was the thing to do,” he said. “Businesses and buildings were depicted on postcards. Lots of people used to save these postcards in their scrapbooks.”

In the 1980s, Joerg began collecting vintage postcards of “beautiful buildings” when he lived in Minnesota with his wife. Now a widower, he continues the hobby — except the joy now comes from returning the postcards to their place of origin.

He has mailed postcards to churches, schools, museums, hospitals and other places across the nation, occasionally receiving coverage in blogs and the news media, which has dubbed him the “Postcard Man.”

Each vintage postcard is accompanied by a letter from Joerg in which he writes, “I hope it brightens your day.”