Mailbox madness – #atozchallenge

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Mailbox madness. Thirteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck — I’m halfway there!

On a family farm, everyone pitches in to get the work done — and Whispering Chimneys was no different. So at age five I was given a task, too. That’s when my mailbox madness began.

Our rural mailbox sat on a pole way down at the end of our driveway — dangerously close to the whizzing traffic on Route 20.

Since my mom and grandmother were usually busy in the house — and busier after my brother Mark was born — I was assigned to go down and pick up the mail.

Me at five standing by our well. Behind me, way down at the end of our driveway, stood the dreaded mailbox. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

Seems simple enough, right? Walk down the drive, take out the mail and bring it up to the house.

However, the job came with a scary set of instructions: look both ways, make sure no cars or trucks  are coming, never step into the road, get the mail out quick, close the box, make sure the flag is down and hurry back up to the house.

Both my mom and grandmother were trained teachers, so they probably walked me through the daunting task a few times. But after that, I was on my own — and that’s when my imagination ran wild.

A formidable foe

I’d seen cartoon trucks on T.V. — with growling faces and bouncy tires — capable of dancing off the road in pursuit of someone. So I knew I was up against a formidable foe.

That’s why I gave myself a daily pep talk on my walk down the drive about ways to elude the frightening tractor-trailers that barrelled by with a banging gust of air or — worse yet — a blaring horn.

  • “I’ll rush to the mailbox, get out the mail and run up the driveway before the next truck goes by,” or
  • “If a truck comes I’ll dive into the bushes so it can’t see me, then get the mail after it passes,” or worst case scenario
  • “If a truck comes when I’m at the mailbox, I’ll squeeze close and hope the it goes by without chasing me.”
Our mailbox looked like these. When the clasp stuck, I dove into nearby bushes or clung to the pole if a tractor trailer truck zoomed by. By: Moosealope

For a while menacing cartoon trucks even showed up in my dreams — and I’d wake with a start just before they got me. Mailbox madness indeed!

Gaining confidence

Yet as I made more and more trips down the driveway, my fear of the trucks began to fade — and I started to dare myself into “close calls” from which I always escaped.

I’d spot a truck in the distance and tell myself, “If I don’t make it to the box, get the mail, and get back onto the driveway before that truck goes by, I’m dead.” Then I’d pelt off at a run to complete the task.

Once in awhile, the mailbox clasp got stuck and I had to make an emergency dive into the bushes to “save my life” — or cling to the mailbox pole as my clothes flapped in a truck’s wake.

But most of the time I beat the trucks, retrieved the mail and stood in the driveway saying, “Hah!” as they zoomed by.

And thus, little by little, I gained confidence in ways my family probably never imagined when they first sent me down to get the mail.

Up nextNorm: My post-war dadPlease stop back!

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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18 thoughts on “Mailbox madness – #atozchallenge”

  1. Hi Molly! What a perfect way / To end a busy day–with all of your new blogs!

    I love this mailbox entry. My thought too–that the truck drivers were probably sending a greeting…saying “hello!”

    Also, that you had a chore! Something I see way too little of with the small set these days. They build character; help you to develop coping skills; give you confidence! All that and more…

    And yes–ditto on the memoir suggestion. It is a must do!

    1. Good point! Writing this post I realized how much I learned from that simple task of getting the mail — and how it helped develop the way I approached the world.

  2. I also used to do the “I need to do this thing before this other thing happens or I’m dead” game. 😀 Fun stuff. I wonder if the truck drivers noticed the little girl diving into the bushes as they approached. 😉

    1. Glad to know I’m not the only one 🙂 And yes, I now think the blaring horns may have been a greeting of sorts by the truck drivers — though I did not hear them as such then!

  3. Little do parents know the challenges they set for children in allocating tasks. Bravo for your bravado and a fond recollection. Love the picture.

  4. Hi Molly!
    I’ve often wondered what it’s like living on a farm. I was a serious Farmville addict once upon a time. (You remember the Facebook game, don’t you?) I must say though… I never imagined that collecting the mail could give such nightmares to 5-year-olds! 😛
    Happy AtoZing!
    Chicky @ http://www.mysteriouskaddu.com

  5. My job on the farm was to collect eggs. We had a chicken coup but they could free range all over the farm. They especially liked the hay trays in the goat pens. I remember watching a chicken lay an egg. I was fascinated. But like you I had to learn a strategy and bravery to snatch those eggs out from under a mother hen. Girl Who Reads

    1. Yes, farms are wonderful for confidence building when you’re a child. Life’s small challenges loom large in a rural setting — and when you learn to conquer them, it’s a great little ego boost!

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