Christine Bonn stands by her grandfather’s mailbox chute. Submitted by Christine Bonn
Every time Christine Bonn drops off mail in a blue USPS mailbox, she looks for a particular symbol located on the neck of the mailbox in the hopes of feeling a deep family connection.
While dropping off a pile of mail in Redondo Beach recently, Bonn found what she was looking for. Stamped deep into the blue painted metal, she spotted her grandfather’s stamp that reads: “HOUCK WELDING CO. DEFIANCE. OHIO 1960.”
Mailbox three at the Catalina Avenue USPS office. Submitted by Christine Bonn
“I drove up and when I saw it I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s my grandfather’s mailbox chute!’ I never thought California would have it,” said Bonn.
Bonn learned to look for her grandfather’s mailbox chutes from her mother, Beverly Seibert of Grand Island, New York.
The mailbox chute in Redondo and others like it were welded over 50 years ago by Bonn’s grandfather, Seibert’s father. During World War II, Nelson Houck who lived in Defiance Ohio, owned a welding company that often created products for the government. They produced mailbox chutes as well as gun parts for tanks and other large government contracts. He sold the company in the early 70s and retired in Florida, but that didn’t stop the family from looking for and taking pride in his company’s emblem.
“We used to get a kick out of it when we went to different states,” said Seibert. “I know they sent some to Puerto Rico and put them all over the country. They were sold years ago, so they aren’t all there anymore, but it’s always a surprise when you find one.”
Bonn hadn’t seen her grandfather’s emblem in years, so finding one in her neighborhood was an exciting surprise.
“Anyone else would just drive up to the mailbox and put their mail in,” said Bonn. “I think I probably sat there for about a minute just smiling from ear-to-ear. I love my grandfather; he was a unique soul and a unique guy.”
Bonn said she always takes extra time to look for the family mailbox chutes. “I always have to stop and look,” she said. “People watching me must think I’m weird, but I have to do it to every single one.” ER