Joan Dorsey
Contributing columnist
Two things were pretty certain growing up in Gardner.
One was it if was a weekday you could look forward to seeing the mailman (person) out delivering mail to our houses. Or possibly find some mail in your box at the post office.
Secondly if you did something wrong, it would get back to your folks probably before you reached home.
Back in the 60’s living on Main Street, I remember at one point our houses getting renumbered. I am thinking this happened around the time we went to door delivery for mail.
Going to get the mail with my Dad was a treat. We had a box at the post office. I still remember the combination for it, but the box number eludes me at this time. Dad would drive slowly to the post office on Elm Street. I am sure he was doing this to give my Mother a tiny bit of relief from dealing with me.
The first post office I recall was the one here on Main St. I believe it was the door to the east of the dry cleaners. The people working there were a little intimidating to me. I think it was the uniforms.
I recall one of the organizations here in town going from door to door selling us mail boxes in preparation for the home mail delivery. Mom picked out a white one with a fancy gold trim on the front. Up until a few years ago it till hung on the porch of my childhood home.
That mail box was the gateway to the world. There was a photo on the internet the other day of a woman standing by her rural mailbox looking through the mail. Someone commented that it must have been an important thing to take a picture of it. Well yes, it was a big deal to get mail.
Those daily mail drop offs were the gateway to everything.
I know for such a digital, electronic world it is hard to fathom. If you can reach into your pocket and call anyplace in the world, in just seconds, letters and mail seem like stone tablets.
But the mail would come, and we would hear about family, new babies, weddings, deaths etc.
Plus it was in a form that you could re-read it over and over again. No one could change what was written in that letter.
I know there were also telephones available at this time. Phone calls were expensive. Long distance was done after 7 p.m .or after 9 p.m. Gardner was not close enough to Kansas City or even Olathe to have local charges.
So we depended on the mail carrier to bring us letters and invites. There was much less junk. An occasional catalog, which could be looked at and shared with someone else. But there were real letters from Mom’s or Grandmothers, friends in college or a boyfriend living far, far away.
Letter writing was also an art form. They had to be legible, informative and interesting to read.
I wrote a lot of letters way back when. I also wrote a number a few years ago when my daughter went to be a counselor at a camp for the summer. I wrote her letters. Now I mostly send her small boxes with interesting items inside.
So I am guessing the internet photo of the woman by the rural mail box was important. Maybe she had a child living far away who would be home for a visit? Maybe her son was getting released from the military? Or the passing of a relative or perhaps a couple being blessed with a new baby?
Whatever the news was, it was there in her hands.
It was probably in the cursive writing of someone she knew. It was to be tucked into her apron pocket, and later the drawer of her bureau.
It could be read and cried over and re-read as long as she needed. Then it could be put away for someone else to read later.
For the price of a 50 cent stamp, send someone a card or a note or a letter this week. That piece of mail could outlive you for a long, long time.
You may have to text them and tell them to check their mail box. This is the world we live in today.