Thursday, March 4, 2010

You've Got Mail

I'd never given much thought to mailboxes until recently.   I just liked knowing that I had one, and by having one I could receive the latest Pottery Barn catalogue or birthday cards from friends and family.  

I remember as a kid receiving letters from my cousin who lived only a quarter of a mile down the road.  It didn't matter that we would see each other on the bus every day; we would still write each other letters just because it was so much fun to receive mail. 

Today, I watch this same excitement from my nine-year old daugther when she receives a letter in the mail from her Grandmother, or a card from a distant relative. It's the simple joy of communicating and knowing that someone was thinking of you in drafting the card or letter.

I worry that this means of communicating -- the written word on paper -- is slowly becoming lost in our world of Facebook, email, and to be fair, even blogging.  I heard on the news the other day that the US Postmaster might stop delivering mail on Saturdays in an effort to cut costs.  Is this just the beginning of the end of the need for a mailbox?  After all, bills are now paid online and most newspapers have an online version.

The good news is that perhaps more trees are saved as we become more virtual and use less paper.  But the bad news is that communicating has become something we do for the masses, instead of just sending an individual letter with pen and paper to someone special.  As a recipient, something about holding the letter in  your hands - feeling the paper and seeing the penmanship -- is special and cannot be replaced with a flat, glossy, computer screen.  When is the last time you sent someone a letter?

The mailbox is also the area that represents our house number; it is the first object in our driveways, or it is attached to the outside of our homes.  It is an extension of our house.   Given all of this, why, then don't we have fancier mailboxes?

I do a lot of driving for my job and started paying closer attention to mailboxes.  Many were plastic, some aluminum and rusty, some wood, and others were unique creations that reflected their owner's personalities.  Most were falling over or crooked.  Some were placed inside antique milk cans, others had vacant flower beds (it is winter in upstate NY though).  I decided to search online to see if I could find some nice mailboxes - you know, mailboxes with character. 

First, some Early American mailboxes.  I like their heavy construction and detail.

Next, the mailbox that is built into a roadside column.  What I like about this mailbox is that it is part of a piece of the landscaping.  It adds character to the home and is almost hidden out of sight instead of a big clunky piece of aluminum teetering at the end of a driveway.

Here is a nice, cleanly designed mailbox that opens from the front and back to prevent you from having to go into the road to get your mail.

And this one, is perhaps my favorite.  It appeared on the "This Old House" website. I love all of the detail and that it looks like a solid piece that took time to create many years ago.  I like that it has a unique shape.  I would love for something like this to grace the end of my driveway and you can bet I'll be looking for one every time I go antiquing.

And of course, there are some really creative and quite eclectic mailboxes out there.  These definitely aren't my taste, but I figured I'd include a couple just for fun:

So what prompted me to do all this thinking about mailboxes anyway?  Well we were hit with a decent amount of snow recently and Jason was outside shoveling when, right there before his very eyes he watched the snow plow doze our mailbox over.  Needless to say, Jason was not pleased.  A few years ago someone accidently went off the road and hit our mailbox.  We were without a mailbox for a while and it was such a pain to have to go to the post office to get our mail. 

Remembering this, Jason was determined just to get the mailbox to stand up before he went to work so that mail could be delivered.  We are both utterly embarrassed by the solution, but we are going to have to deal with it until some of the snow melts and we can fix it or get a new one. 

Isn't that a beauty?  Hey, I'm just happy to have a mailbox.  You never know, someone might just read this and send me a real letter.


  1. I have laughed my self silly! This has to be one of the unique Mail boxes on your block. Hey it could have been worse he could have used duct tape on it. LOL

    Love you,
    PS very creative Jay!

  2. Stephenie,

    Loved the post. We share common thoughts and feelings on 'real mail'. I have always written letters, sent get well and thank you cards. Much more personal than an email, text message or face book update. I feel your pain. We were also hit hard this year with snow. I am lucky that a commercial farmer up the road plowed us out with a bulldozer (and didn't hit our mail box!) I like Jason's creative quick fix!


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