Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 16, 2012

P.O. Box 507

One of the fondest and most enduring of my childhood memories is of the post office in Mission, Texas. My grandparents received all of their mail there for as long as I can remember. Every morning, my grandfather would stop by the post office on his way to work. From the time I could walk he started taking me on his daily visit to get the mail. He and I would ascend the dozen or more steps hand in hand, enter through the glass door, turn right, and go to Box 507. Just thinking about it reminds me of the peculiar but not unpleasant smell of the post office. These were the days before e-mail and junk mail, so every item in Box 507 was important. Sometimes my grandfather would open and read a letter while standing in the post office. I knew that it had to be something important. Over the years my grandfather also encouraged me to write letters and helped me to mail them. He taught me how to approach the man at the window to buy a stamp, where to place the stamp on a letter, and explained the journey my letter would take.

As I got a little older, my grandfather encouraged me to write letters to those in public office. I still have a copy of a reply I received from Senator John Tower when I was twelve years-old. When my grandfather told me that my cousins in Michigan wanted to see a real, live Texas horny toad (a horned lizard), he asked me to go out and catch one so that we could mail it to them. So, I did. We put the horny toad in a shoe box, punched holes in the side, included some bugs for a snack, and then headed for the post office. I still remember the sound of the horny toad scratching the inside of the box as we walked up the steps to the post office. We took the box to the window, the fellow there calculated the postage, and off went the Texas horny toad on his great adventure to Michigan. I am happy to report that the little critter arrived there safely, to the delight of my cousins.

Going to the post office daily with my grandfather gave me an appreciation for writing and receiving letters. It was just as fun for me to mail a letter as it was to receive one. Over the years I managed to hold on to several letters that are, today, worth more to me than gold. They are irreplaceable because they keep me connected to the people and the places that shaped me. I have several letters that my beautiful mother wrote to me when I took my first trips away from home while in high school. Her words are like an open window where I can stand and breath in the pleasant air of younger days. I also have letters from uncles sent from overseas. One letter from my Uncle Phil, dated 14 December 1962, begins with the words, “Greetings from Antarctica!” These kinds of letters transported me to all corners of the globe and started me thinking about the nations.

As much as I enjoy the convenience and speed of email, there will always be a part of me that misses going to the post office and the excitement of receiving a handwritten letter with an interesting stamp affixed to the upper right corner. I don’t write as many letters as I used to but I still try to write a few thank you notes and notes of encouragement every week. And, I still keep and treasure letters I receive that encourage me, letters that may also one day encourage my family after I’m gone. I know that the day is coming when handwritten letters will be a thing of the past, but I’m going to continue to do my part to postpone that day by writing letters. I miss standing in front of P.O. Box 507 with my grandfather, but I am grateful for the things I learned from him at the post office.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories