Thursday, October 25, 2018

Old Mailbox at Laurel and Bayard

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“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” - Alfred Stieglitz


  Right from the start, allow me to apologize for the delay in posting to my blog. I salute those bloggers who are able to consistently create content, write, and post. Time slipped by quickly and there were times I knew I should write but just didn't. There are many good reasons (excuses?), all involving life and being busy. I plan to get back on track so stay with me, please.

  So... as you know, I enjoyed taking early morning walks with my wife this summer and discovering many interesting features of Rehoboth Beach. The light afforded by the rising sun often cast a wonderful warm glow on the subject in my viewfinder. But sometimes, I would discover a hidden treasure that required different conditions to capture the mood I wanted. I knew that for the old postal box at the northeast corner of Bayard Avenue and Laurel Street, I wanted some soft light directly after a cooling rain, so I had to be patient.


Old Mailbox at Laurel and Bayard

  Mail is delivered by carriers to nearly every address in town by foot as residential curbside mailboxes are rare. Postal relay boxes like these were once very common, especially in cities, as central storage containers for mail carriers as they delivered the daily mail. Intended as drop boxes for the mail sorted for a specific neighborhood, these boxes allowed mail carriers to replenish their load periodically instead of having to carry it all at one time. Relay boxes were located at strategic intersections so that either the mail carrier or other postal workers operating from truck could easily stock it before rounds.

Old Mailbox Patina

  This relay box has likely stood on this corner in the heart of the residential area for decades and has developed a glorious patina of greens and grays and oranges. One of its legs is slightly bent, perhaps from a possible past collision with a reversing truck. Yet it still stands ready for duty. And I found it ready to photograph one early evening a week or so after that walk. A gentle rain had just ended and the sunlight was filtering through some remaining clouds. To ensure the mailbox was the focus of the photograph, I sought compositions from multiple angles looking for the softest light and the least distracting background. The first photograph anchors the relay box in space, showing the viewer (you!) its immediate environment. Photograph number two isolates a portion, revealing the impressive details.

  I think you'll agree that small bits of history like this, intimate and often overlooked, are worth saving. If you look around your town, you'll probably find them too. Fortunately, Rehoboth Beach has this old, weathered but still sturdy relay box standing in the shadows but ready to serve. And hopefully, historical bits like this will be here for many more years. But when the day comes for it to be removed, photographs like these will help us remember.