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about the post office...

Monday, November 21, 2016
...in that small south GA town where I spent the first seventeen years. Someone recently sent me a notecard that has a photo of the federal post office building.Tidily situated on the corner of main street, at the end of a three block business district.  The kind of card that would have been easily available and popular with tourists fifty years ago. You've seen them: with realistic black and white  photos taken of interesting vistas, then hand tinted, before color photography existed.

I know the card  mounted on the front of the note paper is a reproduction, but it looks like the real thing, with the colors in the bricks, grass and background/sky added for authenticity. The sender of the card could not have known what an unexpected trip I would go on down memory lane as a result of seeing that image. Thinking of a long-gone era.

My dad had a post office box for business mail when I was a child. Our family did not have a box mounted by the front door as did most homes in that era. There was no mail delivered to our house - everything went to P.O. Box 229 in the red brick building. Like most things that happen in the life of a child, you tend to assume what ever is going on in your life happens everywhere: 'normal' for the entire world. When it is raining at your house, it is raining everywhere, right? I never thought it through, but know all the other homes I visited had a little metal mailbox mounted by the door, with a hinged flap at the top for the mailman to deposit incoming correspondence. Completely un-secured, without a thought someone would rifle through your personal business: back in the day.

He would make his daily stop to pick up incoming mail, and if my brother or I were with him, he would let us open the box. A key was needed for the little three inch square door, to access the mail in the box. As we got older, he would often sit in the truck, hand over his key and let us go in the building un-escorted.  Odd as something that insignificant sounds - it must have been, to a small child a measure of maturity, being 'grown up'.

I can picture me bouncing up the steps, on a Sunday morning, after church, in my layers of petticoats, lace-trimmed ankle socks and black patent Mary Janes, blonde curls bouncing - acting so important, with his keys jingling in my hand. Before the era of people hanging their key rings from belt loop on a carabiner, his were in a small leather wallet kept in a back pocket, that folded/zipped, with a row of little metal devices that hooked into the wallet for security. He would often take one key out, but occasionally hand over the whole leather bi-fold wallet. Give it to me or my brother (arguing in the back seat about who got to do it last time) for a child to go in the building to retrieve his mail.

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