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Matthew Alice:

Pizza and beer riding on this one. Is a mailbox the property of Uncle Sam, or does it just have to conform to certain standards? Also, is it illegal to put notes, samples, etc., in a mailbox? Will I go to Leavenworth if I put a lemon in my ex-wife's box?

-- Tanner Cole, Portland, OR

Well, if you put your return address on the lemon, you might get a friendly warning. Unk doesn't own the box, but he controls the air space inside it. You can have whatever kind of mail receptacle you want as long as it meets minimum size requirements and is mounted at a certain height within a specified distance of the road. So it's a replica of the White House? A birdhouse? An outhouse? The P.O. couldn't care less. But if you've printed up 10,000 fliers advertising your kid's Girl Scout cookie sale, and you motor around town putting them in mailboxes, don't be surprised if the feds show up to get an order of thin mints and a check for the postage. Unless you're a flagrant violator, that's about the most they'll do to you. Mail slots are an uncontrolled free-for-all, but maybe they can put Fido in Leavenworth for mail tampering if he grabs your bills and tears them up as they slide through the door.

Leavenworth: It's Not the Cleveland of Kansas

We were blindsided this week by a 15-page fax from E.D. Smith of Imperial Beach, who's just plain sick of people dissing Leavenworth, Kansas, the town of his birth. We didn't exactly spit on the place, but E.D. feels I should have used the power of the press to remind you all that it's more than a big federal prison. In fact, according to the brochure, "The military history of the plains is rooted in Fort Leavenworth." And it was the meeting place of the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. There's lots of historic stuff in the town. Though E.D. himself seems to prefer Imperial Beach.

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