Postcards tell story of Boynton’s growth By Erika Pesantes - 02/04/2007 Sun-Sentinel
Boynton beach• Janet DeVries' collection of 230 postcards, compiled in a book titled Around Boynton Beach, is a nostalgic glimpse into this 86-year-old city's past and how it blossomed from a small town of dirt roads to a surfer's magnet in the 1960s.
The book, authored by DeVries, an archivist for the city's library and the Schoolhouse Children's Museum, made its debut in late November. The book highlights the city's early days when the luxury condo towers that now dot the foot of its marina were nonexistent.
"It's definitely a walk down memory lane," DeVries said. "Slow down and smell the roses ... the orange blossoms."
DeVries neither dismisses nor welcomes the changes Boynton Beach has seen as the city works to develop its downtown area and revitalize its easternmost fringes along Federal Highway and in the Heart of Boynton communities.
"You have either progress or deterioration," she said. "So we don't really want decay, so we accept progress."
Sheila Rousseau Taylor, a nurse anesthetist, offered 16 of her postcards for Devries' book. Taylor has strong ties to the city where she was raised and where her father, John Rousseau, who she said was the city's first veterinarian, was born.
Taylor, who lives in Boynton Beach, became interested in collecting postcards of Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lantana, Hypoluxo and Lake Worth about 20 years ago, when she noticed landmarks disappearing.
One of them was a feed store where her grandparents met, she said.
"They were going ... and, of course, more rapidly in recent years," Taylor said. "[Postcards] are a remarkable way of preserving history of the area, especially the ones that are photographs."
DeVries, too, picked up deltiology, the hobby of collecting postcards, and owns more than 500 Florida-themed postcards.
Her pastime took on a deeper meaning in 1993, when her parents traveled to Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon. Her father died on that trip, and she received a postcard he had penned in the mail on the same day as his funeral.
"We can see the very fabric of how life was," Devries said about postcards.
In Around Boynton Beach, postcards show earlier versions of State Road A1A and Ocean Avenue, alligators, pineapple and orange groves and other slices of Old Florida.
A strip mall demolished to make way for the Promenade, a yet-to-be luxury, mixed-used development at Federal Highway and Boynton Beach Boulevard, and the Briny Breezes trailer park, which was recently sold to a developer for $510 million, are also part of the collection.
Joanne Miner Shoemaker, a retired schoolteacher who moved to Fruitland Park in Central Florida but realized she couldn't stay far from the place where she grew up, also contributed to the book. She moved back to Boynton Beach a year ago.
Her father was James T. Miner, a cabinetmaker and mango and rose farmer who arrived from Jackson, Mich., in the late 1920s. The city's Miner Road was named after him.
"I grew up here, and I loved it here," Shoemaker said.
Around Boynton Beach sells for $19.99 and is available at the Boynton Beach City Library, the Schoolhouse Children's Museum and other local businesses.
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