I’m fascinated by mailboxes. There, I said it.
As a child, I believed that everyone was connected to everyone else through mailboxes, which made them magical. Indeed, I thought everyone, past, present, and future, was connected in this way; for instance, I believed I could send letters to my dead grandfather, and he would answer, if I just put my letter in the right mailbox. And that if I could shrink down to the right size, I could ride the magic connection between mailboxes to anytime and anywhere to see anyone.
Years later, I had the same sort of idea about Subway restaurants, where they were all connected underground. You can see I spent a lot of time alone with my imagination as a kid.
As an eight-year-old, I remember reading a book about Benjamin Franklin pioneering the postal service in this country, and realized, to my dismay, that people from even older historical times than he had been were unlikely to have ever had mailboxes. This didn’t exactly destroy the magic I associated with them, but it lessened it.
Bugs Bunny cartoons had also the effect of making think that the post office in real life was kind of slow, as he always received packages seconds after mailing off for them.
My fascination with bits of commercial technology was shared by my brother, although other objects appealed to him. He was, at one time, the world’s foremost child expert on water towers. Since our family took long car trips every summer, he would be looking for all his favorite sights (water towers, fire stations, bridges, and antique stores) while I looked for mine (mailboxes, hotels, gas stations, and abandoned buildings of any kind).
My sister, who was a sane person, would be asleep.
My all time favorite commercial sight to see while traveling, was the so-called “Great Sign” of a Holiday Inn:
However, we typically confined our driving to daylight hours, so I usually only saw these in their full nighttime glory if we stayed at one. Which was always, unless we stayed with relatives; my family loved that chain.
Driving in the country, which is still one of my favorite activities, often allowed for sightseeing of the most remarkable kinds. I remember us driving through the Ozark mountains one summer, which I thought was the most beautiful place I had ever seen.
I notice, when I’m looking for pictures for my poetry blog or this blog, that I often seek out the same objects I loved as a child, realizing that while we age and change, some parts of us never do. Part of what has always made me feel “different” than most people I’m around is how simple and trivial most of my enthusiasms are. I like convenience stores. I like commercial art. I like blogs. I like unpretentious, everyday things, because … well, just because.
And yes, I like mailboxes.