Final Thought: Local woman’s ‘Postcards’ explore mail’s power to connect people
Sometimes a postcard would arrive in our old, black dented mailbox with the missing red flag. When I heard the mail truck coming down our street, I raced to the end of the driveway. In summer, the tar was hot and blistered and I had to divert through the fresh cut grass and hope I didn’t step on a bee or fresh pile of dog poop.
Our mailbox was warped and twisted on the outside because the naughty boys would drive by and whack it with a baseball bat for fun, but the inside was shiny with silver waves. To a Midwestern kid, it was an exotic ocean depository for treasure and secrets.
I was a Tom boy with a pixie cut, buck teeth, mosquito bites and a tan, sinewy body. The postcards were my window to the outside world. To his world. A world which I longed to be a part of. Everything about the postcard was foreign and exotic, except for my Dad’s familiar handwriting. And just like my Dad, I never knew when they would appear. My father was like the Daddy Long Legs character in my favorite book: a rich, elusive man who travelled the world doing nothing but always having an exciting, exotic adventure in a place I knew nothing about.
In order to feel close to him, I pulled out maps and globes, and tried to decipher foreign languages and sample ethnic foods and expose myself to global religions and politics. If I understood those things, maybe I would understand him. At school we did duck and cover drills under our desks and feared that which we did not know. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and we watched and cheered. The Vietnam War came into our living room sanctuary and we hung dog tags around our necks that jingled during games of kick the can and ghost in the graveyard. Still the postcards arrived. They exposed a world of wonder and awe.
The Masai in Africa.
Blue footed Boobies.
The Bushman of the Kalahari.
The Cossacks and Mongolian Nomads.
Mount Fuji and Geishas.
Cannibals in the Amazon jungle.
Venus fly traps.
One beautiful small stamp sent a magic carpet across the oceans, across the deserts, across the mountains and continents and into the old black dented mailbox, the one with the missing red flag. The one the naughty boys whacked with a baseball bat.
Submit your own creative piece to Explore Steamboat editor Mackenzie Hicks at mhicks@SteamboatPilot.com for a chance to be featured in print.
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It was a love story that brought Jason Erwin to Steamboat Springs from Nashville, Tennessee.