Shreve postman seeks to solve mystery of lost postcard for 78 years
Talk about postal mail.
Grace and Clara Harry never received the postcard that was written on a Saturday and sent to them from Texas 78 years ago.
It was posted in 1943, when a pound of sliced bacon cost 43 cents, and you could have a half gallon of milk delivered to your door for 31 cents.
A one-cent stamp was affixed to the card, which was to travel from Austin over 1,300 miles northeast and through several states to rural Lakeville, an unincorporated community in County of Holmes.
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The lost postcard carries a simple message
The now faded postcard carries a simple message meant to show appreciation for a Valentine’s Day the girls apparently sent to a loved one:
The only Valentine I received was from two daughters. Thank you very much for thinking of me.
I really like Austin. It is very (illegible) that you can get almost anything you need.
The weather is nice and I start (illegibly) to plant vegetables. My house is really cute and I like it a lot.
Dick doesn’t go out (out?) Very often. He’s so busy.
Love, Naomi W. Spurier
Somehow, along the way, the postcard got lost.
Did it fall out of a mailbag? Was he stuck in a machine? Where has it been all those years?
No one is sure.
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What is clear is that the card arrived at a post office in San Francisco this month and was stamped on December 9, 2021.
He showed up at the Shreve Post Office after that, where Postman Kelly Hoffee did a double take as she was sorting through the mail when she noticed the “Buy War Savings Bonds and Stamps” inked on the card and spotted the penny stamp.
“So I took it to my postmaster and I was like, ‘Does that say 1943? “He looked at it and that’s what he said,” Hoffee recalls.
Soon everyone at the post office was inspecting the card.
“We thought it must have been stuck somewhere in the equipment or fallen behind a desk or something, and someone found it and threw it in the mail stream,” Hoffee said. .
Hoffee, who worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 23 years, said she heard about the mail years later but never expected it to happen on her route.
“I have never seen anything like it,” she said.
Finding Clara and Grace Harry
Now there is a mystery to be solved, and since Hoffee delivered route 44638 Lakeville to Holmes County, she has taken it upon herself to find Grace or Clara’s relatives, presumably sisters, and return the postcard to the Harry family or their descendants.
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“If it was my grandmother or my great-grandmother, I would like it as an heirloom,” Hoffee said. “I think there must be someone who wants this.”
Hoffee is looking for anyone who might have known the family and is asking the public for help. Anyone with information can call the Shreve Post Office at 330-567-2168.
“I’ll keep this card …” she said. “I have spoken to some of the older gentlemen on my postal route and intend to contact County Line Historical Society and see if I can find relatives.
Rural delivery: everyone knows each other
The postcard is addressed to Miss Clara Harry and Miss Grace Harry in RD, Lakeville, OH. Postal code 44638 appears to have been added later.
“At the time, RD meant rural delivery. Everyone knew everyone, so you didn’t need an address, ”Hoffee explained.
She studied the surnames on the map, which did not match the names of anyone on her route.
“Even if the address is wrong, we can still deliver it,” she said. “We’re getting a lot of bad addresses right now because of the volume at Christmas.”
The rural delivery system has evolved over the years into box numbers as the populations of the communities have grown, Hoffee said.
“And then when the 9-1-1 system was implemented, that’s when we all had to have street names and house numbers,” she said. “This is how we all got our addresses.”