I noticed recently that I have quite a few photos of old Sonoma County mailboxes saved on my computer and it made me start to wonder why I’m drawn to photographing rusty mailboxes in the first place. I have posted a few on Instagram and am happy (and a bit relieved) to see that quite a few other people also seem to enjoy photos of mailboxes.
I was a science major and my brain seems to function best when things are logical and rational. I’m still working on welcoming and embracing randomness and spontaneity when it comes my way – sensible or not. But this time I felt the need to figure out some sort of an explanation because I think I innately sensed that it would lead me down a road of happy memories.
So, as I started to think about it the answer (like many other revelations in my life) is deeply rooted in my Sonoma County experiences. In my case, the mailbox that started my ongoing affection was a large box with rust and chipped paint right across from the lodge in Summerhome Park in Forestville, California.
As much as I looked forward to spending the month of July at the Russian River, it did distance me from one of my friends, Clare. We always rented cabins in Summerhome Park that were a bit on the “rustic” side as they fit into our budget. One of the trade-offs of affordability was the absence of any television, radio or telephone and the need to rely on letters as the only way to stay in touch with people back in the city. Handwritten letters became my lifeline for receiving news about the goings-on in the neighborhood and for updates on how our San Francisco Giants were faring in the standings.
It was such a simple pleasure to wait for the postal truck with its distinctive sound of shifting gears as it made its way up and down the hills in the park and then to take a leisurely stroll to the large mailbox used by renters to receive mail. There was a momentary bit of disappointment if there wasn’t a letter that day – but it only increased the anticipation for tomorrow.1