The P. O.

October 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

“The P. O. was a capital little institution, and flourished wonderfully, for nearly as many queer things passed through it as through the real office.  Tragedies and cravats, poetry and pickles, garden seeds and long letters, music and gingerbread, rubbers, invitations, scoldings, and puppies.”

from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, chapter 10, “The P. C. and P. O.” 

•••••

In case you’ve never read Little Women, let me provide a bit of context for this quote.  The “P. O.” in question was a martin house repurposed as a small post office and set up in the hedge between the March family’s home and the house of the boy-next-door, Laurie.  With padlocks on the doors and each household in possession of a key, the P. O. became a place where “letters, manuscripts, books, and bundles” were exchanged between the denizens of the two houses.  I was enamored of this idea when I read (and reread) Little Women as a child.

♥I still love it.♥

What’s not to like about a post office designed to deliver missives (not to mention fascinating bits of miscellany) from dear ones?  No bills.  No junk mail.  No ad fliers.  Nothing but mail that makes you smile, laugh, blush, get a bit teary (in a good way), and know you’re loved.  The idea of a personal P. O. delights me in the same way that Little Free Library makes my book-loving heart go pit-a-pat.  They are both intimate institutions that bring people together to connect with each other, with ideas, and with a sense of fun.  Excuse me for a moment while I skip around with great glee over the mere thought that such things exist.  What joy!

If you love the idea of a personal P.O. and just cannot wait until the idea catches on, you can capture the coziness of the experience by hand-delivering a note to someone who lives close by.  Don’t panic.  I promise this is easy as pie and won’t take much of your time.

To illustrate:

When a friend recently ran her first 5K, I slipped by her house on the morning of the race and left this on her porch:

I could have sent her the same message as a text with 100 characters to spare, but it seemed to me that her effort and accomplishment deserved a little extra effort of my own.  The beauty of it is that while it took slightly longer than texting, it was so simple to pull off.  The note was written on a piece of scrap paper and the flowers (snipped from my garden) were arranged in an old mustard jar.  Easy-peasy!  Now it’s your turn to give it a try!   Just scribble a note, drop it off, and make someone’s day a little bit brighter.  Let me know how it goes, okay?

Oh, and if anyone wants to help kick-start the personal P.O. movement or become a benefactor and fund a Little Free Library, my front garden would be an ideal location for the establishment of such institutions.  Hey, who knows what dreams might come true if I put the idea out there, right? :)

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§ 4 Responses to The P. O.

  • Kim Leggatt says:

    i love this idea … as I’m sure your friend did in receiving it. What a great thing to do. Very simple yet says so much about your friendship. More please ! x

  • Elloa says:

    This is so wonderful! Having never read Little Women, I am unfamiliar with the reference to P.O., but not to the concept itself.

    When I was a child, I remember creating a post box out of a shoe box. I painted it red and black, got my mum to help me cut out a letter sized hole, and started writing letters to my parents and siblings, posting them in hand made envelopes folded out of A4 sheets of paper and then collecting the post and delivering them to the intended recipients. The number of deliveries I did a day would have made Royal Mail blush in embarrassment at their extremely limited service. Post twice a day? Pah! I collected and delivered up to five times, and would be dismayed if there were no letters waiting to be collected.

    I also used to believe, for a very long time, that when a letter was put into a pillar box, there were chutes and tunnels that burrowed deep underground, delivering the letters to any part of the country or indeed the world. I genuinely believed that this was how letters got from once place to another – through some mysterious and slightly magical network of underground tunnels. What a wonderful imagination children have!

    Thank you so much for sparking these memories, Annie.
    I think your writing is exquisite and this site is so sweet and essential.

    Elloa x

    • Annie says:

      Oh, what lovely compliments you give, Elloa! Thank you. It is such a thrill to know my writing is bringing up happy memories.

      I love the idea of magical underground mail delivery chutes! I think there’s definitely a story to be written about it. Perhaps about the struggles between the wee creatures who are charged with making sure letters reach their destinations and the devious ill-natured forces that misdirect the mail? :)

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