Does the sight of a mail truck at your mailbox excite you? Honestly, it doesn’t do that much for me either these days, but I can remember a time when the mail delivery was an exciting part of my day. Well, no, it wasn’t like going fishing, swimming, or to get an ice-cream cone at Sanderson’s Drug Store, but it was a small something to look forward to each day. After all, sometimes the mail contained surprises. About the only surprise I’ve gotten in the mail lately was a jury summons.
Back in those days I knew all my mailmen by name. Well, actually, that wasn’t so hard because through the years I had two of them, plus an occasional substitute. The usual substitute was also my pastor, so I knew him better than the regulars. I easily recognized their cars when I saw them coming. That wasn’t as easy as in these days, because in rural Alabama they didn’t drive official-mail trucks but their own personal vehicles. Because many of the roads they traveled were still unpaved, their vehicles were covered with dust, especially the rear end. Later, they got a little fancy with magnetic signs on the doors that said U.S. Mail. I thought it was funny because they drove sitting in the middle of the seat. Modern mail trucks have the steering wheel on the right side, so drivers can easily reach the boxes, but back then they sat in the middle and drove with their left foot.
I actually remember standing out by the mailbox when I was a kid, waiting for the mailman to deliver something I was anxiously waiting to receive. During the schoolyear, the mailman usually ran before I got home from school, but what he had delivered was often still there in the box, just waiting for me to get home and run to get it. UPS was already around in those days, but I was almost grown before I saw one of those big-brown trucks. The other parcel companies hadn’t been created yet. We didn’t get many packages, but when we did, they came by mail. We also received these things called catalogues that we could order things from. It was kind of like ordering online, but it was on paper instead. My favorite was the Christmas-Wish-Book from Sears. They were also used for other purposes, sometimes.
People actually sent hand-written letters and cards back then. We had kin folks in other states who sent personal letters regularly. Those letters were how we kept up with the latest gossip…I mean news. We had telephones, but we had to pay for each long-distance call. Those five-cent stamps were much cheaper. Email, texts, twitter, and Facebook had not been heard of then, but now have almost done always with such antiquated but pleasurable methods of communication. People even mailed hand-written thank-you cards back then!
Now that I think about it, I haven’t run to get the mail in quite some time, or waited by the side of the road for its delivery. Sometimes I even leave my mail in the box until the next day. It seems about all I get in my mailbox these days are bills and junk mail…or perhaps an occasional dirt-dauber nest. How do they get in there? If I purchased all the extended warranty offers sent to me, I wouldn’t have enough money left in the budget to buy gasoline! Sometimes I just miss the old days. I think I may just sit down and write a letter to send to someone today…if I can afford the stamp!
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.