Alva Review-Courier -

A hostage situation


September 11, 2019

I didn’t pay attention to the warning. I mentioned it to a few people, but set the concern aside. It’s really easy to procrastinate; I had a lot of things to do at work. I even spent eight hours at the office on Labor Day (so I actually labored).

But then the ransom note arrived Wednesday morning. It was the only mail I received, and it was from the post office. My mail was being put on hold until my mailbox complied with postal standards.

When we moved to Alva 50 years ago, we learned our neighborhood was on a rural route. It seems a little odd because it’s only a couple of blocks from Oklahoma Boulevard. But our neighbors had rural mailboxes at the street edge.

My husband asked around and learned where he could buy a rural mailbox and post. I don’t remember who installed it. I’m sure it wasn’t my husband as his handyman credentials only extended to electronics. A hole was dug and the creosote-treated post was secured in the ground with concrete.

There was some question about the height of the mailbox, but we decided what was good enough for the neighbors was good enough for us. Whoever put it in place did a good job since it has lasted 50 years.

Soon after we moved to the neighborhood, we learned the mailbox directly across the street from us was a target. Over and over, vehicles ran into it. We became used to seeing it lying on the ground. After several strikes, our neighbor installed a metal post and solved the dilemma. Now if a vehicle hits it, the mailbox is secure and the vehicle suffers.

Quite a few years ago, the post office notified us that our street number was not enough identification on the box. We needed to add the rural route number. We dutifully complied. Those numbers have long since faded away as did the rural route designation. With E-911 mapping, we all have street addresses.

Last year rust finally ate through a screw hole on our galvanized mailbox. My handy son-in-law went with me to buy a new one. He had to adjust the size of the wooden base with some scrap lumber but soon had it securely in place. I added some numbers designating the address, and it looked great.

So our mailbox has been relatively trouble-free. Then a couple of weeks ago, a notice in the mail stated that rural mailboxes must be 42 to 48 inches above the street. There were some other regulations about distance from the street and configuration that didn’t apply to me. Rural mail carriers seem to favor four-wheel drive SUVs or large pickups. My mailbox was at the height of my car window so I guess it’s a stretch to reach it from a big vehicle like that.

I pulled out a tape measure and found that 42 inches put the bottom of the mailbox just below shoulder level on my 5 ft. 2 in. frame. I wondered if it were raised to regulation height, would I need to carry a stool out to get my mail? Sometimes envelopes slide to the far back of the box.

A neighbor down the street solved the height problem by adding some wooden blocks between the mailbox and the supporting wooden platform. It looks a bit odd but accomplishes the job.

If my son-in-law were nearby, I’d ask him to work on the problem, but he lives 90 miles away. Briefly I thought about just renting a post office box instead. I visit the post office nearly every day anyway. But the thought of getting all those address changes sent out quickly ended that idea.

At work when I was talking about my mail being held hostage, one of the guys offered to take a look at the situation. With some scrap lumber, a saw and other tools, he built a box to boost the mailbox to an acceptable level. I don’t need a stool to look inside. The top of the box skims my chin.

After the postal carrier saw the fix, I found a card nicely thanking me and promising mail would be delivered the next day. It was.

My mailbox isn’t quite as attractive as it used to be. It looks rather top-heavy. I wonder how it will stand up to our sometimes 60 mph winds. Hopefully it will last another 50 years.


Reader Comments


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019