Not all rural deliveries welcome
July 21, 2011
Where we lived when I was a kid gave Rural Free Delivery (RFD) a whole new dimension. It was two miles to the mailbox, dirt road of course, and the mailman only drove the 25 miles from town twice a week.
My brother and I ordered stuff through the mail. I sent in a boxtop and a couple of dollars to the cereal company for a little stuffed doll. I could choose Snap, Crackle or Pop. I chose Snap.
After we mailed the order I waited…..and waited…..and waited. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been warned, though. It plainly said on the box to allow at least six weeks for delivery. I’d about forgotten about it when one day it appeared in the mailbox. Wow! I kept old Snap around until he sorta fell apart years later.
One of those “secret code” rings was my brother’s order. I never did figure out exactly what the thing did and I don’t think he did, either, but we both pretended it was neat.
We could order stuff from radio stations, too, specially Clint “That’s C-L-I-N-T, Clint, Texas, folks.” My brother ordered a harmonica. The wait was almost as long as the one from the cereal company, but he finally got it.
He drove everybody loco for at least a month blowing and drawing on that thing, but he finally got where he could play “Over the Waves.” I ordered a little accordion. It was about a foot long when closed up and a bit longer when stretched out. After much noisy practice I learned to play “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.” My dad heard me one day when the tune was almost recognizable and taught me the nifty special words: “My Bonnie looked over the gas tank, the height of its contents to see. I lighted a match to the system. O bring back my Bonnie to me.”
My brother and I each had our own song learning agendas, so our duets were unintentional. Our folks were not impressed with different songs blurting out at the same time, but we didn’t mind getting banished to the barn.
We got catalogs in the mail – lots of them. My mom ordered clothes from them. Nothing ever fit right. The day she ordered me some Levi’s, and we figured out I was finally big enough to order by waist and length size is marked with a star in my memory. Until then my britches, if they were long enough, needed a rope to get them tight enough to stay on. I refused to wear “high water” pants.
The most dreaded mail delivery could show up at any time. My widowed grandmother never learned to drive, and she split her time among three of her children. She loved to “hop a bus,” she called it, to move on to the next family’s house. When she came to our house she conned the mailman into bringing her from town. He’d even drive her all the way to the house.
She delighted in making life miserable for everyone, so that’s how RFD got a new connotation at our house.