Lum: The end of another era
January 14, 2016
On the last day of December, when my annual contract was up, I closed my post office box.
I had been getting my mail at Box 1571 since 1965, when the post office occupied the space where the Weinerstube restaurant would later be, followed by a sports shop and now the infamous art atrocity.
The rows of brass boxes had combination locks, and I am surprised that I have forgotten mine because I clearly remember the combination of my first locker, when I was in fourth grade: 14-15-5.
Ah, memory. Don't ask me what I had for dinner yesterday, but I can still see the duck decal that identified my coat hook in nursery school.
My Aspen post office box was in the very top row. I had to open the little door and paw around on the floor of the box to determine whether there was any mail. This quickly grew old so I used double adhesive tape to mount a small mirror on the ceiling of my box to view the contents (if any) below.
This was before the plethora of junk mail, when "you've got mail" was not axiomatic.
Recommended Stories For You
Among my most vivid memories of the old post office was the time my daughter Hillery (age 5) loudly told sweet Miss Louise Berg, "You look just like an old WITCH!" and the weeks that followed the delivery of free samples of Irish Spring to all of our boxes.
Irish Spring is perhaps the most odoriferous of all bars of soap on the market. People would open the post office doors and reel backward as if punched in the face. The smell hung on for weeks, and I doubt that any of the box holders became customers of the product.
The post office moved to its new building down by the new Clark's Market. Instead of our beautiful, sturdy brass boxes, we now had boxes that seemed as flimsy as if they were made of aluminum. Instead of our private combinations, we now had keys, an added complication to the unfettered lives we sought.
We could no longer ask a friend or neighbor to pick up our mail unless we found the key and handed it over, possibly not getting it back because this was Aspen and we didn't need no stinking keys other than the ones we left in the ignition.
The boxes were arranged in alcoves, each painted a bright color. Mine was red. Now they are all painted an off-brown.
One of the many postmasters took the handles off of the "out" doors so that we unruly scofflaws wouldn't go out the "in" doors. Plagued by complaints about the long lines, another postmaster removed the clock so we couldn't tell how long we had been waiting.
All of which is to say that I'm not going to be broken-hearted because I surrendered the key to my box. I had gotten so lax about picking up my junk mail that I'd have to stand in line with a package notice to pick it up and dump it into a recycle container.
I've had a home-delivery mailbox for over a year. It is really nice to have packages delivered right to my door, even better to have only a modicum of junk mail. If the HoneyBaked Ham people haven't found me yet, I must be (almost) free and clear.
Having read that the post office sells the information, I decided to leave no forwarding address. All of my friends and bill collectors have been informed of my location, and I see no need to tell the relentless ham guys or The Company Store that they can overload my home box.
Farewell, Box 1571. Hello anonymity.
Su Lum is a longtime local who will send you her address if you email her at su@ rof.net. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.