My mother raised me better, but I was oblivious to the omission I had made until recently. To make matters worse, I could have/should have apologized for not responding to their correspondence a year ago. Both my cousin and his wife were at the family reunion last year. Unfortunately, I had no idea that I had erred in social graces. Fortunately, they were present again this year.
It was awkward, but why not own it? I saw them when they arrived at the family reunion on Saturday. Consequently, I made a beeline in their direction. Almost before they were fully out of their vehicle, I was apologizing for not responding to the correspondence they sent to me dated March 17, 2015. The General recently had looked in the mailbox at our street address and discovered the unclaimed letter in our mailbox.
My cousin’s wife had written to thank me for mailing them a copy of “More Than Enough” and to express congratulations for the successful publication of my two books. The envelope was postmarked 17 March 2015. Who knows how long the envelope containing the correspondence has been in our mailbox? It was stamped in red with the notation:
UNABLE TO FORWARD”.
I remember “why”, but I don’t remember “when”. The General and I changed our mailing address from our street address to a Dripping Springs post office box two-to-three years ago. In fact, it may have been as long ago as four years. We did that because several older adolescents/young men were reportedly having a heyday with mail being delivered to the mailboxes at people’s street addresses. Allegedly, discarded mail stolen from people’s personal mailboxes had been strewn up and down the highway and scattered across the roadways in various locations. In addition, a number of people reportedly became the victims of identity theft as credit card numbers pilfered from mail taken were used without the consent or authorization of the cardholder.
As I recall, the General and I missed receiving a credit card statement one month. Out of concern that our credit-card statement might have been stolen, we immediately closed the account and subsequently discontinued use of our street mailing address. It was uncharted territory for us. We had never had a post office box in Dripping Springs before.
At the time we made the switch, personnel at the post office indicated it was all or nothing. We couldn’t have both a post office box and a street mailing address. Consequently, all of our mail had to be delivered to the post office box if any of our mail was delivered at that location. We couldn’t pick and choose what mail was sorted for which address. Consequently, the address 550 Loop 165, Dripping Springs, TX 78620 no longer existed as far as the post office was concerned.
I don’t remember exactly how I fumbled out my apology for not responding to their kind note a year a half earlier, but from the look on my cousin’s wife’s face it was absolutely a non-issue. She smiled and said, “I’ve got a better story than that”.
“You have what?” I asked. She responded: “At home I have a one-cent post card that my grandmother mailed to my grandfather before they were married. He never received the card that my grandmother mailed him”.
Pausing for me to fully process what she had shared, she went on to say: “My grandmother died when she was still young. She died giving birth to their fourth child. Later my grandfather remarried and both he and his second wife were deceased before the one-cent post card eventually was delivered at the intended address. The family home was still in the family and the surname was still the same. The post card arrived eighty-years from the date when it was mailed”.
What an absolutely, incredible story! I told her I needed the story and a picture of the post card for my blog. She responded that a family member had written a story related to the card’s history. In fact, the family member had shared the story and the post card with a reporter for the town’s paper. The reporter was captivated by the story as well. He promised to publish the story. Two days later, the family member noticed the reporter’s obituary in the town’s newspaper. Consequently, the story was never published and it took some finesse on the family member’s part to have the postcard returned to her possession. It is now a keepsake that my cousin’s wife treasures.
I was sharing that story with my daughter and son-in-law and they said to me in unison. “Did you hear about the story of Scott in Scotland and the letter he received through the mail?” I had not, but it too, is an interesting story. They heard about the letter and how it was addressed on a public radio talk show.
Truthfully, the letter carrier in Scotland had to know those on his mail route well to figure out the riddle or the puzzle related to finding the correct recipient of the correspondence. The letter included only a first name. The following notations were included on the envelope: “Scott, from Scotland … aged about 60/70?? … corner of Tiniroto Road (almost). By a bridge. Has a Japanese wife — who may be older but looks about 20 … also has a daughter, about 3. Loves history … Good sense of humour … tells a good tale … Rural delivery area, sort of south east of Gisborne.”
Scott O’Brien, the person to whom the letter was addressed was surprised the letter made its way to the intended recipient. Scott previously had engaged in conversation with a man delivering phone books. Actually, it was by happenstance that they met at all. Scott heard his dog barking and went outside to see what was going on. I guess you could say, “They hit it off.” The two men talked for about an hour and a half. You are probably thinking the same thing I was thinking. “Was the man delivering phone books being paid by the hour?”
George MacLachlan, the deliverer of the phone book, had the social graces to write Scott O’Brien to thank him for his time and conversation. In addition, he mentioned that he hopes to visit with him again next year.
At our family reunion on Saturday, a cousin said: “I always read two or three lines of your blog.” Noticing my inquisitive (was it a smile or was it a smirk – I don’t remember) at any rate, if that cousin stops before completing the first paragraph of today’s blog, he’s missed two interesting stories. Neither originated with me, I simply had the opportunity to write them down.
All My Best!