When I first heard that a lot of post offices were closing around the world, I wasn’t particularly disturbed, except for the people who would be losing their jobs. After all, I thought, we’re in a digital age now and there’s a lot less need to mail things, except for packages.
But then I started noticing posts by some of my Facebook friends saying how much they missed getting “real” letters and cards in the mail, and how emails just aren’t the same. The fact that I don’t get letters or cards anymore hadn’t really bothered me, but as I thought about it, an old memory came back to me about the mailbox we had when I was a kid.
I grew up in Newtown, Connecticut (yes, that Newtown) and we lived in a house in the midst of fields and forests at the top of a little hill. For the first few years we lived there, the little hilly road leading to our house was dirt, with woodlands and pastures on both sides. The mailman didn’t drive up our hill to deliver our letters, so we dug a hole at the bottom of the hill, put in a post, and stuck a standard rural aluminum mailbox with a red flag on top of it.
It was always a little adventure to “walk down to the mailbox,” which my sister Bertie and I did nearly every day. We’d collect whatever was in the box, and sometimes we’d put a letter in and lift up the red flag, so the mailman would pick it up the next day.
But the most fun of all, at least for me, was getting letters from my pen pals. There was Olga Hrenkevich (such an exotic name, I thought!), who lived in another state, and even more exotic, Kiyoshi Ito, who lived in far off Japan—which seemed like another planet to an innocent little country girl like myself. Later on I used to get long, insistent love letters from a boyfriend who lived in another state, whom I’d met at a musical event in our town.
So even though I’m a champion of all things digital, I have to admit I do miss those old-time letters every now and then—and especially the trek down the hill to the mailbox.