Treasures in the mail box


Hank Segars

Lakelife Associate Editor


It’s really hot this afternoon and the scorching Georgia sun reminds me of earlier small town life, before our region became known as Lake Country.


In those dog days of summer, screened windows were open, noisy fans whirled at full speed and everyone sweated more. Vacations to Florida meant getting up hours before sunrise to travel, when Dixie’s humid and sultry atmosphere was at its coolest.


Back then, the mere thought of another big lake in our region aside from Sinclair would have been considered nonsensical. And who would ever believe that championship golf courses could successfully exist between Greensboro and Eatonton? Summer entertainment meant fishing in farm ponds, playing outdoor sports, going to air-conditioned “picture shows” or simply checking the mailbox.


Yes, I know this is now hard to believe.


My enjoyment of receiving mail surely evolved from growing up in small town Eatonton, where news from bigger places was always welcomed. The arrival of personal letters, bulky packages and colorful postcards sometimes generated the day’s most exciting event.


Treasures included the much-anticipated arrivals of Boy’s Life and Sports Illustrated magazines, birthday cards and inexpensive souvenirs sent from traveling aunts and uncles. Foreign coins and U.S. stamps ordered from the back of comic books were eagerly awaited.


In those days, I also enjoyed travel brochures and maps of any kind. I still spend a lot of time looking at road maps but you must understand it doesn’t take much to entertain some of us. As a provincial dreamer akin to Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I always wanted to see those exotic, picturesque locales featured in issues of Look, Life and National Geographic magazines.


With a bottled Coca-Cola filled with salty Lance peanuts, I also devoured fresh copies of the Macon Telegraph, Eatonton Messenger and Atlanta Journal. Incidentally, during that time, if anyone called a Coke a “soda,” we knew they were from somewhere really far away.


Returning home from the newspaper office in Madison, I begin my daily walk up the driveway to see if any treasures have been dutifully placed in the fading peacock-green mailbox.


Slowly opening the mailbox’s creaking door, I find an assortment of bills and an abundance of annoying sales fliers. Resting on top is an important-looking letter from a national organization; this outfit wants my money but somehow never gets around to sharing information about the ridiculous salaries paid to its executives.


Also, an embossed invitation offers a free, get-acquainted meal from a big financial planning firm. These investment gurus don’t realize there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Then, there is a college alumni magazine that is always interesting, except for the stapled contribution envelope that makes you feel guilty. It would be nice if prosperous institutions would send us invitations to buy its logoed shirts and caps at reasonable prices. Today, there are no handwritten letters, local newspaper or other treasures in today’s mail call.


  1. the way, great magazine deals are out there as publishers work hard to keep subscribers on their circulation lists. However, I’m not sure what is happening to the quality of many national publications; the issues seem smaller with more advertisement than content. Even old standbys like Time, Newsweek, and The Atlantic don’t care about dishing out too much political hash onto the readers’ plates.


One of my favorite magazines is Garden & Gun, even with its uninspiring name. This Charleston-based publication is filled with excellent photography, superb features and outstanding stories. It is authentically Southern and the writing is truly exceptional. The good news is there are zillions of other worthwhile publications out there, something for everyone: everything from Family Circle to Popular Science, Coastal Living to Woman’s Day.


And, when it comes to checking your mailbox, tomorrow is indeed another day.


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