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How We Get Our Mail

Mail Delivery in the 1950’s

Since I was a little girl, the way our mail is delivered has changed radically. When I was small, we had a mailman who walked down each street on his route from house to house with a big bag on his shoulder, rain or shine. Our mailman just happened to go to our church and his daughter was one of my friends all the way through high school. We are still Facebook friends.

In those days, mail delivery was more relaxed, even though our mail was delivered twice a day. People would chat with their mailman. People would give him a treat at Christmas time. Sometimes he would even be invited in for coffee. Everyone was glad to see the mailman come because back in the 1950’s we got mail we could get excited about. We got personal handwritten letters from people we cared about and junk mail was rare. We also got the magazines we subscribed to and each one meant hours of happy reading, new recipe and garden ideas, and even short stories.

People who lived in single family houses had mail delivered through a slot in their front door or in a mailbox at the curb in front of their house. We had a slot in the door. Mail continued to be delivered to each house I lived in until I moved here in 2014.

How We Get Our Mail Now in the City

As you can see above, even though we live in a single family home, we now live in a neighborhood with clumps of mailboxes on stands for each block or two. Our mail doesn’t come to us. We need to go to our mail. Exceptions can be made for those who are housebound if they put a collection box on their porch for the mail person to deposit the mail in. The mail person drives a mail truck to the neighborhood boxes, opens the back of the box, and puts the mail in the slots through the back. Each person gets his mail from a locked box with a key.

Neighborhood Mailbox

Packages are delivered to the larger boxes at the bottom. Those that won’t fit are still delivered to one’s porch. When the mail person needs to leave a package, she puts a key in the mailbox and indicates which of the larger boxes it is in. Then one gets the key along with regular mail, gets the package from the larger mailbox, and leaves the key in the door. Sometimes, as in the photo above, the door stays open. Most new neighborhoods now use this system to deliver mail.

How We Get Mail in our Rural Home

When we moved to our first home in this county, it was on fourteen acres. Since I had a business and often  got small packages, my mailman helped me install a very large mailbox that would hold the higher volume of mail I got. He did it out of the kindness of his heart. It was not part of his job, but he knew we weren’t physically up to doing it. I bought the mailbox and he installed it. See it in the photo below.

Our Rural Mailbox

Unfortunately, although this mailbox holds a lot, it doesn’t lock. It’s very close to the major highway we live on, and our house is clear at the top of the hill our driveway leads to. As you can see, it’s a bit risky. We have important financial mail delivered to our locked box in the city.

I no longer get excited about getting mail like I used to. These days there is almost no personal mail. Since the Internet became available to me, I communicate mostly online with my friends. I read blogs and have no need for the magazines I used to love so much.  I miss the days when the mailman’s visit was the highlight of my day.

How do you get your mail? Do you look forward to it? Has the way you get your mail changed since your childhood?

What do you think?

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  1. When I was living in Panama my relatives and myself had to go the post office that was located in Balboa Panama inside a building. When my relatives and myself moved to Louisiana our mail was put inside a box located near the front door that slid inside a garage. Now that my relatives and myself live in a neighborhood I have to use a key to get the mail from a group of mailboxes.

  2. When I was growing up I got to see both sides. Our house, where my parents lived, had a mail truck delivering the mail. My grandparents also had a lake house, but the postman always stopped at each house, got out and hand delivered the mail.

    • I kind of liked knowing the one who delivered my mail. Even when I moved to Templeton and the mailman delivered by mail truck, we often chatted when he had to deliver a package to the door, and it was he who offered to put in a bigger mailbox for me if I’d go buy it and give it to him.

  3. Gosh did this bring back memories from the “old days” and having our mailman delivery our mail right to the door. I remember my grandmother making Christmas goodies for him and he would sit on the porch and chat! No rush, rush as things are today.

    • My mother used to do the same thing. I guess some things are lost as towns grow and get more efficient. It used to be that the housebound could at least rely on seeing the mailman. Even in 2003, a mailman reported reported a burglary to my mother-in-law’s home while she was in the process of moving to our area.

  4. LOL. Most of the mail I receive I’m ready to toss. I don’t care how I get my mail. I just want the Postal Service to be sure Kris Kringle gets my wish list! I want a rolls royce, a mansion in The Bahamas, and solid gold byt comfortable bed room slippers! Only 3 things. LOL.

  5. For me, back in the 50’s, the mail arrived at our post office, which was in the administration building (Crater Lake National Park). There were only 30 families, maximum, so that was easiest. That building is now the “information center” for park visitors. Since the late 60’s, after I left the park, we’ve always gotten our main in a mailbox, like in your last picture, until we moved to this little town.

    In this town, since it is just over a mile long and about 3/4 mile wide, if people live in town, they have no option but to pick up their mail at the post office. I preferred having a mailbox. Thankfully, we only live about 4 blocks from the post office, and on the other side of the railroad tracks. It isn’t a huge problem except in the winter, with snow and ice and 40 below temperatures.

  6. I am still amazed when people talk about twice daily mail delivery. I cannot recall that here in Canada. We still have door to door delivery in many parts of Montreal, despite losing a large number of our postal outlets. But in other parts of Canada, it’s the post boxes at the roadside as you show above.

  7. We have a mailbox on the porch. But whether we get our mail in it is hit and miss. And our mailman pretty much NEVER picks up outgoing mail. Guess the little red flag on the side of the box doesn’t mean anything anymore.

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