There are cultural curiosities everywhere. If you’re looking for them.
Today on the Buckeye Trail, I noticed the mailboxes on Rapids Road, in the rural area of Geauga County. They’re all near the road, for easy delivery by U.S. Postal Service trucks driving between the houses separated by great distances. And in addition to mailboxes — I noticed mailbox shields erected “upstream” from traffic.
Why would a mailbox need a shield? I don’t exactly know — because, frankly, only about fifty to sixty percent of Rapids Road mailboxes had one. Marci thought that they might provide some protection against snow plows in the winter time. But growing up in a rural part of Ohio, myself, I also remember stories of high-schoolers driving around with baseball bats, or pumpkins, or BB guns, using roadside mailboxes for targets. So I’m pretty sure the mailbox shields are meant to serve as protection from bored teenagers.
And even though most of the unprotected mailboxes seemed to be doing all right, I did pass at least one example of what might happen if a Geauga County mailbox doesn’t have a shield — its dome bashed in, lashed to the post with a rubber bungee cord.
Not all the shields were purely utilitarian, though. Some of them expressed a creative expression of the household — like the one above, protected by old skis arranged in a stair-step pattern.
In addition to the mailbox shields of Geauga County, though, I’ve encountered a lot of other unusual mailboxes in Northeast Ohio, as I’ve been slowly completing my loop around the Northeast segment of the Buckeye Trail this year.
I’ve seen a Dog Mailbox just outside of a kennel.
I’ve seen a Fox Mailbox in an area called Hunting Valley — which also includes a lot of equestrian centers and grand Western Reserve estates suggesting a history of English-style fox hunting.
And throughout Northeast Ohio, there are a lot of tributes — including mailboxes — to the beloved Cleveland Browns football team.
Will tour buses ever start leading foreigners on a sightseeing tour of Northeast Ohio mailboxes? Probably not. But it’s still fun to notice these little glimpses of culture and creativity.