I have taken on a new book club (my third one!) and while I didn’t really need to join a third book club, I did so because the first book we are reading is all about writing. Practicing writing, to be more exact! The book, Wild Mind: Living the Life of a Writer, by Natalie Goldberg, gives us writing “assignments,” and those of us participating in this book club are sharing our assignments on our blogs. So ~ lucky you! You will be able to read my homework!
This assignment has us begin two 10-minute writing session with the prompt “I remember” and then the opposite, “I don’t remember.” This morning, I read an article in the Chicago Tribune about some small Illinois towns who are fighting to keep their post offices open. Since I grew up in a small town, this was a great starting point.
I remember — there was no mailbox by the door or next to our driveway when I was growing up. There was no mailman to deliver the mail to our house. The only way to go get our mail was to walk up the street to the busy highway, turn left and pass the corner brick building, and go into the next building which was the post office. Now, I will have to check with my sister who has a much better memory than me, being younger, but I believe our post office box was 110. We memorized the combination, our parents showed us how to spin the dial to open the little door, and then voila! We were able to take our mail out of the box and bring it home with us. When my sister and I were older, Mom sent us to the post office by ourselves to get the mail. What a responsibility we felt!
After we moved to the “big city,” I corresponded with my old classmates for a while. When I was addressing the envelope, Mom told me all I needed was my classmate’s name and the name of the town. No P.O. Box number, house number or street needed. The town we used to live in was so small that the post master would know exactly how to get my letter to the right person. After all, the post master knew us and knew everyone else in that small town.
As an adult, I wanted to get that small town feeling back. I accepted a job in a small town, but it was too small for me to live in, so I lived in a larger town close by. I never really got to know the post office in that small town; I never had a P.O. box to visit. Yet I did make a trip there once with a group of kids with special needs as we taught them the life skill of going to the post office to mail a letter. That small post office brought back memories of my hometown post office.
Now, the mail man delivers the mail in his mail truck to the mailbox at the end of my driveway. The girls will shout out, “The mailman’s here!” when they see his truck. I wave to him as he delivers the mail. If I have a package, he gets out of the truck and brings me all of my mail, not just the package.
I don’t remember — not having a post office nearby. Isn’t that one of the first buildings you seek out when you move to a new place? Your address — one of the first things you know when you first move into that college dorm room, that first apartment, condo or house. And then, you send everyone your new address! If you’re lucky, you get a unique street name, like “Memory Lane” or “Rosebud Court.” If you are unlucky, your street name is unmemorable. Boring, even. The address of the house I grew up on was Main Street. Google that, and you’re likely to get thousands of Main Streets!
When my husband and I were looking at houses, the names of the streets were interesting to us, but they didn’t dictate the house we were going to buy. I wasn’t going to buy a dump of a house on a certain street just because I liked the street name. Especially that one house that smelled like cats and had cat fur on all the furniture. We were lucky enough to find a nice house with a nice street name. Not my first choice, probably, and also not a street name that I will share with you. Oh, now you are just dying to know the name of my street!
I also don’t remember the name of the postman I had growing up, but I do remember the name of the TV mailman on Mr. Rogers. It was Mr. McFeely, wasn’t it? He was such a nice mailman, delivering the mail right to Mr. Rogers’ door! Oh, what a beautiful neighborhood.I also don’t remember the street that Mr. Rogers lived on. But I’ll bet it was the perfect name.