March 2014: The Children Are Tender

Caregiving, teaching little kids to read, and riding in the pickup with Farmer John; I tweet, pin, and blog, from my home in rural Kansas. If you've landed here looking for information about my books, visit my author's page by clicking this link: A. Born. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Out With the Old...Or Not

The messy "870" is a recent addition, hastily applied one morning before our unhappy postman arrived. But our names were painted onto the box 40 years ago. 

We knew for quite some time that our local mailman did not like our mailbox.

Farmer John and I were sentimentally attached to that mailbox.  When we were newlyweds John had bolted it to an old pump, and I had painstakingly lettered our names on the side.  I must have used very good paint, because 40 years later our names remained legible, and although the box had survived being backed into by a fine array of vehicles over the years, it was still serviceable.  Or so we thought.

One day about a year ago a little slip of paper fell out from between a credit card application and the water bill in our morning mail. It was a form entitled "mailbox needs attention" and it had multiple boxes checked including "does not meet regulations" and "house number needs to be printed on both sides," and most upsetting at all, "mailbox needs replaced."  John and I were offended.  The mailbox was a bit battered and worn, that was true, but then, so were we.  We took the critique of our old box personally.

I am usually anxious to please everyone, and under normal circumstances would have been quick to make the suggested repairs.  But I had lettered my married name on the side of that box as a 20-year-old bride.  I hated to think of doing away with the box that had received wedding and birth announcements, Christmas cards, newsletters, college diplomas, copyright certificates, and a wealth of other missives over forty years of time.

But, a few months ago, the little slips of paper began arriving more regularly.  The last one we received had a check mark by the line stating "mail delivery may be discontinued unless repairs are made." 

I hurriedly painted our house number on each side of the old box, and then John and I sadly agreed to replace it.  I gave the old pump a fresh coat of paint and John mounted the new box, which weighs less than half of it's predecessor and has plastic fasteners and flags.

"This one won't last 40 years," I said, as we looked at the finished job.

"Well, we don't really need it to," said Farmer John.  

I put my hand in his and we returned to the little yellow farmhouse, which is a little battered and worn but still serviceable.

Just like us.
We etched our initials into the concrete step the fall after we were married.  Don't think I'll discard that old mailbox--maybe I'll use it as a planter next spring.  I think I can scrub the messy, recently applied numeral off and preserve our names.  

OK, I admit this one looks tidier.


  1. Cute story!! We too got one of those slips a few months ago, all we needed was numbers. Our box was replaced a year or so ago because the wood post that my Dad had put it on when they first got mail here at the house had rotted off! It had lasted 50 some years. I too was sentimental about that old box and didn't take my Dad's name off of the box for the first 12 years that we lived here!!

  2. I'm sorry you had to give up the comfort of your old mailbox. I'm sure you will find a good use for it, to preserve it. The new one does look very nice. I'm enjoying reading your book "The Children are Tender". ~ Abby