A postcard of Bismarck High School mailed 95 years ago made its way back home this week, landing on the desk of Superintendent Tamara Uselman.
Boniface Morris, a resident at the time, sent the card in September 1920 to a friend in Oregon. That card eventually traveled to California, where Lowell Joerg found it in an antique shop.
The 87-year-old bought it for $6 and mailed it to the Bismarck superintendent. He also enclosed a note inside the envelope.
"It's an old-time classic for sure," his letter reads. "So I thought to myself, 'By golly, I'll send it back home where it can be appreciated.'"
Uselman responded accordingly. She laughed out loud when she first saw it.
"I got the letter and read it and thought this just has to be bigger than my desk," she said.
She decided to share it with members of the Bismarck School Board at their upcoming meeting Monday. She scanned it and uploaded it to the agenda.
Joerg explains in his letter that he has made a hobby of mailing vintage postcards of schools and churches to the buildings. He calls it "a re-distribution of happiness."
From his home in Stockton, he told the Bismarck Tribune over the phone that he sent his first card 20 years ago. He does this once or twice a month and hears back from recipients 15 percent of the time.
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"Some people toss it in the garbage, naturally," he said. "Other people pay attention to it."
In his letter, he jokes that he promised his wife lunch if Uselman writes back and includes a few dollars to compensate him for the cost of the card and postage. He told the Tribune their favorite restaurants are IHOP, Chili's and Applebee's.
The superintendent plans to comply. She has already typed Joerg a response and said she will use her own money to buy the couple a gift card to Applebee's.
Until Uselman received the postcard, she had never seen a photo of the early high school. It was built before the existing one came online in the 1930s.
She was struck by the shades on the windows and leafy trees along the boulevard.
Since BHS was founded, the district has added two more high schools, including the new Legacy High School that opened its doors two months ago.
"It just says what an investment," Uselman said.
She hopes to "re-distribute" the happiness Joerg's letter brought to her.
"When you have that chance to make a connection with a complete stranger, why not?" she said. "I want to share the joy he gave me."
(Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8267 or email@example.com.)