SHREVE, Ohio —Talk about snail 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 mailed in 1943, when a pound of sliced bacon cost 43 cents, and you could get a half gallon of milk delivered to your door for 31 cents.
A one-cent stamp was affixed to the card, which had to travel from Austin more than 1,300 miles northeast and across multiple states to rural Lakeville, an unincorporated community in Holmes County.
The now faded postcard carries a simple message meant to show appreciation for a valentine the girls apparently sent to a loved one:
“The only Valentine I received was from two girls. Thank you so much for thinking of me.
I like Austin real well. It’s very (illegible) that you can get nearly everything you need.
The weather is nice and I’m getting (illegible) to plant vegetables. My home is real cute and I’m enjoying it very much.
Dick doesn’t get (out?) very often. He’s so busy.
Love, Naomi W. Spurier”
Somehow, along the way the postcard was lost.
Did it fall out of a mailbag? Was it stuck in a machine? Where was it all these years?
No one knows for sure.
What is clear is that the card arrived at a post office in San Francisco this month, and was stamped Dec. 9, 2021.
It showed up at the Shreve post office in Holmes County’s Amish country, where mail carrier Kelly Hoffee did a double take as she sorted 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 was like, ‘Does this say 1943?’ He looked at it, and that’s what it said,” Hoffee recalled.
Soon, everyone in the post office was inspecting the card.
“We figured it had to be stuck somewhere in equipment or fallen behind a desk or something, and somebody found it and threw it into the mailstream,” Hoffee said.
Hoffee, who’s worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 23 years, said she’s heard of mail turning up years later but never expected it to happen on her route.
“I have never seen anything like this,” she said.
Now there’s a mystery to solve, and since Hoffee delivers the 44638 Lakeville route in Holmes County, she’s taken it upon herself to find relatives of Grace or Clara, presumably sisters, and return the postcard to the Harry family or their descendants.
“If this were my grandma or great grandma, I would want this as an heirloom,” Hoffee said. “I would think there’s got to be somebody out there who wants this.”
Hoffee is looking for anyone who might have known the family and is seeking the public’s help. Anyone with information can call the Shreve Post Office at 330-567-2168.
“I’m going to hold onto this card … ,” she said. “I talked to some of the older gentlemen on my mail route and plan to get in contact with County Line Historical Society and see if I can find some relatives.
The postcard is addressed to Miss Clara Harry and Miss Grace Harry at RD, Lakeville, OH. The 44638 ZIP code appears to have been added later.
“Back in the day, RD meant rural delivery. Everybody knew everybody, so you didn’t need an address,” Hoffee explained.
She studied the last names on the card, which do not match the names of anyone on her route.
“Even if the address is wrong, we can still deliver it,” she said. “We get a lot of bad addresses right now because of the volume at Christmas.”
The rural delivery system has evolved over the years to box numbers as the population of communities grew, 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. “So that’s how we all got our addresses.”