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Little did Joe Heidecker know that an after-school job would turn into a lifetime love.
But more than 70 years later, he feels the same thrill he did when he got his first handful of postcards.
“When I was 10 years old I used to scrub floors and cut grass for a woman and she paid me 10 cents and 10 postcards,” says the 86-year-old North Fort Myers resident. “After about a year, I had a little collection.”
That “little collection” is now a major hobby that fills shoe boxes, albums and whole cabinets. And even though one might assume he’s had his fill, Heidecker plans to attend the upcoming collectible postcard show Jan. 14 in Fort Myers.
Organized by Sarasota resident Peter Cleaves, the show will offer something for all levels of collectors, Cleaves says, whether they’re just getting into the hobby or serious connoisseurs.
In addition to cards on display, there will also be many for sale — and postcards can be a nice investment. Cards that once sold for a penny can fetch tens of thousands of dollars, Heidecker says.
Of course, most enthusiasts simply enjoy them for the window on the past they provide. In Florida, especially, old postcards are some of the only historical images that still exist, says Cleaves — especially in this region, where the waterfronts have undergone huge changes.
The book “Fort Myers in Vintage Postcards” by Gregg Turner bears witness to that fact.
Available at area bookstores and online, it includes long-lost looks at the City of Palms — from pineapples piled high at a downtown grocer to views of the now-razed Royal Palm Hotel — images that helped shape the town’s image.
As Turner writes in his introduction, “It is not known when the first postcard appeared about Fort Myers, nor what the subject matter was, who produced or sold it, to whom it was sent or what the postcard may have cost. But what is known is this: that the golden age of postcards started around the very time that Fort Myers was shedding its image as a frontier cow town.”