The news these days is often depressing at worst and frustrating at best. It’s easy to get caught up in the spin cycle and let it get us down. Never fear… The News Blender has you covered. Once a week, we feature Something Good and, in return, all you have to do is tell us something good that has happened to you this week, something you are thankful for, a joke, a cute animal story, an inspiring tale of heroics, a Random Act of Kindness… SOMETHING good.
Today’s Something Good is a mystery solved, just in time for Father’s Day.
In 2011, a mailbox was installed one night in the woods of Geprags Park in Hinesburg, Vermont. The mysterious mailbox had an orange flower and one word painted on it: DAD.
In the ensuing years, passersby have looked inside and wondered why it was there. Many felt compelled to write notes to their fathers; hundreds of messages have been left over the years in the blank journals tucked into the security of the isolated mailbox.
The owner was finally found after Meredith Gordon was walking in the park with her family and found it. Curious, she started making inquiries of local officials who were stumped. When Seven Days VT posted about it on a local forum, Barry Lampke claimed ownership. He told CBS, “After keeping it secret for so many years, I knew that somebody would find out about it and want to share it with others – and I think now is a great time to share it.”
He and his father, George, wrote letters to each other – his dad was Barry’s favorite penpal. (George signed off each letter with a illustration of a flower. The orange flower painted on the box is an homage to that hand drawn illustration.) When George died, Barry missed their correspondence and installed the mailbox so he could write letters to his father again.
Barry said, “That was my way to connect with him. And so when he passed away, about a year later I realized that that piece of our relationship was missing. And so that’s when I decided to find a way to continue that connection.”
Barry left the first empty notebook but others have been added by strangers who have been drawn to connect with their own fathers.
The messages left are varied. Some are from people who write to dearly departed fathers. Others are to fathers still alive. Some are lovingly scrawled by children. Others yet reflect more complicated relationships. In addition to English, there are notes in German and Spanish.
“I often wish I could see you, but I don’t miss you because your spirit glides by so often,” one note reads. Another says, “You showed me how kind and gentle a truly strong man is.” One message begins, “Dad, you are the reason I know everything I know.”
Barry has returned to his mailbox often. He writes to George and reads the notes that have been left to other fathers. “Some of the letters are loving and thankful. Others are extremely painful and heartbreaking,” he says.
While Meredith Gordon sees it as a memorial that is even more intimate than a grave site, Barry thinks people can come to have a private conversation at his mailbox.
He said, “It’s opened up a new channel of communication between people and their dads. It’s George’s gift to all the dads. It provides an opportunity for reflection, forgiveness and appreciation. Years from now, I hope my kids will visit the mailbox.”
To all the fathers reading, Happy Father’s Day! If you’d like to share a story about your father in the comment section, please feel free to do so or just share something good that’s happened this week.