“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
— Unofficial U.S. Postal Service motto
Well, most of the time.
Recently I received a postcard addressed to Mary Ann Jarvis. She once lived at my address in Arkansas City.
That is not too unusual. We purchased our home more than 13 years ago, and from time to time we still receive mail addressed to the former owners. If it looks important, we’ll get it to them.
But this card for Mary Ann was much different. It was 60 years old.
The Jarvis family lived in our house more than 22 years ago. The item we received was a report card for several classes that Mary Ann had taken at Kansas State University.
Receiving a grade card in the mail seemed odd, but it was the postmark that really caught our attention.
The card was mailed on Jan. 30, 1960. More than 60 years ago. It carried a four-cent stamp.
This card was too special to just ignore. We decided to try to locate Mary Ann and hopefully return the card to her or her family.
Our entire household began scouring the internet.
It took us about an hour to discover that her brother had continued to live in Ark City. Sadly, we found he had recently passed away. But we also discovered that his wife Sharon Jarvis, still lives here.
We found her on Facebook. She told us that Mary Ann is alive and well and living in California. And she would be happy to forward the postcard to her.
Sharon wasted no time telling her sister-in-law about the appearance of the long-lost report card.
“She said she hoped her grades were good,” Sharon Jarvis said with a laugh.
No worries there. Mary Ann was a straight A student. A teacher had written the words “very good” on one of her subjects.
Mary Ann Harter now resides in Clovis, Calif. I spoke with her by phone on Monday. She said her family lived at my current address from 1957 through 1998. She was surprised the report card had never reached her.
“I lived there and my mother continued to live there for years after I graduated,” she said. “After I graduated, I went on to California to live and raise a family.”
Mary Ann was curious why the card was mailed so late. But her final grades were of even greater interest. The high marks pleased her.
“Well wonderful. I like those kind of things,” she said with a laugh. “I can show them to my kids and grandkids.”
Mike Caruthers, the Ark City postmaster, said a late delivery happens from time to time. Occasionally a piece of mail would get stuck in the bottom of a mail sack.
“Once we empty them we send them back to the plants, and they may not use them again for long periods of time,” he said.
Smaller items sometimes slip under or behind the letter sorting cases. Caruthers said he has found a few undelivered items, but most are never discovered until a remodel takes place and the cases are moved.
I told Mary Ann that I would give the card to her sister-in-law to mail it to her. We both hope it doesn’t take another 60 years to arrive.