Vintage PBHS postcard forwarded to superintendent by California elder
Posted on 03/05/2024
Dr. Aaron Cornman

A 95-year-old man from California mailed the district a postcard of a historic Poplar Bluff school building as part of his longstanding pastime to preserve history.

“I said to myself, ‘By golly, I think I’ll send it back where it can be appreciated,’” wrote retired insurance agent Lowell Joerg from his assisted living center in Stockton. “Heritage is important.”

The circa-1920 postcard, according to Joerg, was purchased from a West Coast antique store, and depicts an image of the former High School building on Vine Street, where Southern Bank’s parking lot is presently located.

“Your letter could not have come at a better time as it reinforced a communication that I had sent to our staff about accentuating the positive things in life and staying focused on the task at hand… educating students,” R-I Superintendent Dr. Aaron Cornman replied to Joerg upon receiving the letter on Wednesday, Feb. 28. “Your hobby of ‘re-distribution of happiness’ truly is awe-inspiring.”

As requested by the sender, Cornman mailed back a refund for the postcard as well as a little extra for postage, an assortment of Mules apparel and tourism materials from the region. Additionally, to help Joerg keep his mission going, Cornman included with the care package a selection of vintage postcards from the early 1900s, some sent to Poplar Bluff residents, as well as a mid-century print engraved on a copperplate from Thrift City Antiques & Collectibles.

“My dear wife, now passed, used to laugh at me and say, ‘If you hear from those folks you’ll have to take me to lunch,’” Joerg noted in his initial correspondence. Cornman responded to his pen pal, who celebrates his 96th birthday in June: “Finally, if your dear wife were still alive today, you would owe her lunch.”

Cornman intends to create a display in the Administrative Building for the rendering of the former High School, along with the thoughtful letter. The Vine Street building was constructed east of the original Central High School in 1914, and served as the district’s secondary campus until 1958, when the High School moved to where Junior High is currently located on Westwood Boulevard, according to district records. The Central High building next door housed younger students until it reached the end of its lifespan, and was razed in 1962.

The building on the postcard continued to serve ninth graders through 1965, according to alums who remember having the building to themselves, when the school facility was sold to Three Rivers College. The Vine Street structure became the hub of the community college’s downtown operation through the 1970s, until the Westover Administrative-Classroom Building opened on property donated to the northwest, where the main campus is located today.


Cutline: Superintendent Dr. Aaron Cornman compares the Vine Street High School building to the modern-day Oak Grove Road campus displayed in the Administrative Building, beside an image of the previous PBHS campus that currently houses the Middle School on Victory Lane.

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