Friday, September 2, 2011


Part of the journey of being a new homeowner is examining the house and yard you've plunked down a boatload of money for and asking yourself: What were the previous owners THINKING?

Why did they paint the living room PINK?  Why did they plant ELEVEN palm trees in the itty-bitty front yard?  Why did they hang the mailbox on the BACK of the house?

Some questions are elementary.  As for the walls, since the previous owners painted the master bedroom a 3D reptilian green and the dining room a salmon-orange meets WWII-era Spam, of course (!) they painted the living room a feminine pad pink.

And landscaping with eleven palm trees?  The people who built the house back in the 1950s were from the Midwest, so they embraced the exotic palm and planted it wherever there was an available plot of one square foot just to say, "Look, Honey, we aren't in Cleveland anymore!"

But hanging a narrow, wall-mounted mailbox on the BACK of the house?  Behind a locked fence?  In the backyard?  That was a head-scratcher.  Perhaps the previous owners disliked junk mail?  Or they disliked ALL mail?  Or they used it as a laundry hamper for just one dirty sock?

"Maybe," Mr Wonderful said, "They retired it to the back because it's too small for a mailbox now."  Granted this was a valid point.  It measured just 7 inches wide by 9 inches tall by not even 3 inches deep and was capped with a flip-top.  It was so tiny a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies wouldn't fit inside.  "I'll go to the home store and buy a bigger, standard size one," he said unscrewing it from the back wall.

But I found this old mailbox appealing.  Yes, it was small but it was in proportion with Our small House.  According to the metal stamp inside it had been manufactured in Los Angeles, "CA" by the "Babco" company, which meant it was local and since that company no longer exists, made it a relic.  Finally and most importantly the starburst cut out pattern decorating its front matched the illuminated starburst pattern of our doorbell.  This mailbox was original to the house.  It belonged with Our House.  I wanted to keep it.

"For a postal worker a mailbox, is a mailbox, is a mailbox," I said.  "But if you're right and it is too small for current U.S. Postmaster specifications, let's at least hang it near the doorbell since... they go together." 

Despite his misgivings Mr. Wonderful mounted it on the wall between the front door and our starry 1950s doorbell.

The next day I came home from work to see our starburst mailbox holding a packet of envelopes bound with a rubber band.  Flipping through them I noticed various postmark dates stretching back to our escrow.  Apparently the postal carrier had been carrying our mail around for weeks because he didn't have a place to put it.

Happily now he does.