Caussey's Corner

Caussey’s Corner: Mailbox On a West Texas Dirt Road

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Although I’ve lived in the Metroplex more than 20 years, I still sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of cars, trucks and buses that exercise their duty rights on our highways each day.

Growing up in west Texas, where most roads are dirt and farm to market roads are the norm, causes me to alter my thinking patterns about modern transportation.

I grew up at the end of a dirt road, where only those coming to my house used the road. The sandy cloud thrown into the air as the visitors motored down the dirt road announced their approach.

Heavy rains made the road impassable for a school bus, bringing a welcomed relief for a tow-headed boy like me who didn’t particularly like school anyway. Why go to school when there were fish to catch and rabbits to chase with your dog.

Dirt roads have bar ditches that catch the water run-off from the road. As the water recedes, it leaves new crawfish villages waiting to be explored. A little chunk of salt pork tied to the end of a string provides a boy with something useful to do. The crawfish always obliges by grasping the salt pork extended over the entrance of their hole, remaining firmly on line until unceremoniously dropped into a sack.

Caussey's Corner: Mailbox On a West Texas Dirt Road

Photo: via Twenty20

Our dirt road also acted as a kind of custodian for the family’s most precious possession–the mailbox. The mailbox held treasures sent from far away places named Chicago, Omaha, and Dallas. We got catalogs from Sears, calendars from Elston’s Funeral Home, magazines from the “Progressive Farmer,” and bills from Harris Hardware and the Baylor Drug Store. The drug store also sent out calendars advertising the miracle cures brought on by large doses of Black Drought and Carter’s Little Liver Pills.

The mailbox acted as the road’s sentinel that held the key to the outside world. High winds, drunk drivers and anguished hunters couldn’t destroy our mailbox. But it bore testimony to their attempts reflected in the dented and bullet-riddled box and the bent and slightly tilted pole offering it lodging.

The dirt road extended to the farm to market road that fed the highway, which led to the world.

Today, I have rare occasion to journey along a dirt road, even if I could find one. But there once was a time when a dirt road led me home. A place where there was a filled water bucket, and a house flowing with the aroma of Mustang Grape Jelly and lye soap smells. Where grasshopper flight sounds were as familiar as aircraft sounds over Love Field.

Caussey's Corner: Mailbox On a West Texas Dirt Road

Photo: @kimzdalady via Twenty20

But the dirt road carried me away from the screened porch, outdoor plumbing and earth buried root cellar. Carried me to a place where people order food from a menu, drive SUV’s, and enjoy the richness of air conditioning.

I no longer drink water from a dipper, or bathe on the front porch, but I do recall those days. Those thoughts these days seem to be more prevalent each time I wait for a red light, attempt to get through a traffic bottleneck, or maneuver around a wreck or some road repair.

Although I no longer travel by dirt road, I still have that dirt road mentality. A mentality etched in my mind by hoe handles,’ coon hunts, and hanging new wash on tree branches to dry.

But I must confess, I do have a mailbox. A box usually cluttered with bills and circulars. Yet I have not recently gotten any mail spreading the virtues of using Geritol, Pampers Shampoo, or Fen I Mint Gum.

Durhl Caussey is a syndicated columnist who writes for this outlet. He can be reached at [email protected].