March 23, 2014

Sentimental Sunday ~ Post Office Box 61

Although I grew up in a small rural village, it was my friends in the outlying countryside who had mailboxes in front of their houses and driveways.  Inside the village we had an actual post office with combination boxes.  You can read more about the history of the different Island post offices in my post, 'Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 34'.

Some of my first memories of the post office include the postmaster, Mr. Carey Fairbanks.  Mr. Carey had huge deer heads mounted high upon the walls; one on the customer side of the counter and another on the office side of the counter.  As a child, I'm not sure which intimidated me more, the ominous looking deer heads with eyes that seemed to track my every move or Mr. Carey with his gravely sounding voice and stern look.

When I first married and began a family of my own, we shared the same post office box with my parents.  It was during this time that I learned Mr. Carey and I were cousins and that we shared the same birthday.  I remember walking into the post office on my twenty-sixth birthday and wishing him a happy birthday.  He was celebrating his sixty-second birthday and we both got a chuckle out of the reversal of the years.

I don't recall ever seeing the combination to our post office box written down.  If you asked me to recite the combination, I couldn't.  I still can't.  Yet if I stood in front of the post office box, I could twirl the knob in all the different directions and within seconds the box would open.  I always found this odd.

In the late 1980s, I moved away from the Island; living in another area of the state before eventually moving out of state.  Visits home rarely included trips to the post office.

In 2002, I was home for my father's funeral.  One of my brothers and I took a walk around the Island and ended up on the street near the post office.  He glanced over at me and asked if I remembered the combination.  We walked inside the building and up to our old post office box.  I twirled the knob without any hesitation.  The number of repetitive turns in different directions and the letters where the pointer should stop all came naturally.  The box opened right up.

Sicily Island Post Office
Several days ago, I was home for a short visit and stopped by the post office with a friend.  While the building itself hasn't changed in all these years, other changes were evident.  The mounted deer heads had long since been removed.  There was no stern looking Mr. Carey behind the counter as he passed from this life back in January of 1992.

Post Office Box 61 no longer belongs to my family.  The combination lock had been removed and replaced with a key lock.

On this Sentimental Sunday, I leave you with the following:

3 right turns, stop between G and H
2 left turns, stop between C and D
1 right turn, stop between I and J

And yes, I had to look at the picture and imagine myself twirling the knob.

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