Robert Hitt Neill
About a year ago, I took a part-time job as Executive Director of my hometown Chamber of Commerce & Main Street Association. While I was raised and still live six miles from the Leland City Limits at a little plantation community called Brownspur, I graduated from Leland High, and since Ole Miss and the Navy, I have served in Leland civic clubs, churches, and community affairs.
The Chamber/Mainstreet Office is upstairs in City Hall, which used to be the old Bank of Leland Building, subsequent to the Bank moving from across the street in what is now a plantation office, though the tile floor at its entrance still proclaims “Bank of Leland.” After that bank was absorbed, merged, or whatever has happened to community banks during this past 20 years, the new owners built a new bank, and donated the old Bank building to the City for a new City Hall. The Leland Post Office is right next door, though a tourist might think it’s a block the other way, because the old Post Office is still proclaimed by the attractive old signage over what I used to call the Western Auto Store. Confused yet?
Just as an aside, in case you want to buy a big old home six miles from a small town with a volunteer fire department like Leland, it takes only 22 minutes from the time you call 911 to report a house fire, for the Fire Truck to arrive in your driveway. That’s doggone fast, and my hat is off to those guys!
But what I wanted to tell you about was the Post Office service. The Leland Chamber/Main Street mailbox is P.O. Box 67. When they gave me the key last year it was only a week or so later that a letter came in for an attorney – let’s call him Fred Fodrod – whom I did not know, with a Long Beach, New York, address, though at P.O. Box 67. Idly wondering how the USPS could mess that one up, I marked it “Wrong Box” and stuck it in the “Not Your Mail” slot in the Post Office.
A month later, I gathered up an armload of mail and took it to the Office, where I went through it. Lo and behold, there was another envelope to Attorney Fodrod at P.O. Box 67, Long Beach, NY, and this one had a check in it. Reason I know that is, a corner of the envelope had been torn in transit, and the edge of the check was sticking out. But here’s what struck me: it had been mailed to Atty. Fodrod in Long Beach, NY, by a lady in…Long Beach, NY!
I again wrote “Wrong Box” on the envelope and dropped it in the “Not Your Mail” slot the next time I went to the Post Office. I forgot the lady’s name.
Two months later, I got another letter to Mr. Fodrod, who still had a Long Beach, NY address. Couple of months later, same thing, again a check from a lady with a Long Beach, NY address. No, the Zip Code wasn’t even close to 38756.
Last week, it happened again, for probably the tenth time. I mailed this check (I could see through the little envelope) back to Atty Fodrod with a note:
“Dear Attorney Fred Fodrod:
I enclose a letter addressed to you by a lady from your own city, which somehow ended up in P.O. Box 67 (that part is correct) in a town in Mississippi, which is a state located nearly 1500 miles from Long Beach. In the year that I have been collecting mail at P.O. Box 67, I have gotten several letters addressed clearly to you, some mailed from Long Beach itself. I will continue to send your letters back to you, but you might want to check with your Postmaster Up Theah.
“However, if you have a desire to migrate Down Heah to warmer weather, since your mail seems destined to come here anyway, my own home is For Sale, and if you like, I will open an account at Planters Bank and start depositing these checks as earnest money. At the very least, you should join our Chamber of Commerce, instead of using our P.O. Box 67 rent-free! Business memberships are only $125 a year, which I bet is less than your P.O. Box 67 rental fee at the Long Beach Post Office! Personal Memberships are $30. If you join, you’ll be on the Membership Recruitment Committee. If not, you could at least send me a roll of stamps now and then. Y’all come on Down Heah where your mail is sent!”