Clovis News

Clovis woman's mail brings mystery with history

6:00 p.m.: The mystery of a 98-year-old envelope that ended up in a Clovis woman's mailbox last month cleared up slightly today, but also leaves one lingering question: where did it come from?

John Hanamaikai was preparing to take a run last month when he saw an envelope in the middle ofhis street. He placed the envelope on top of the nearest mailbox, which is right behind Nancy Born's home.

"I just thought it was interesting, I didn't understand the format of the address," he said. "Ijust know it was old.

"I didn't know how to return it to anyone who may have wanted it. I figured somebody would realize it was theirs and pick it up."

Born received the envelope in her mailbox on March 18 after a letter carrier thought the name on the envelope -- Mary Brotman -- was Born's name.

An empty envelope postmarked 1912 placed a mystery in Nancy Born's hands.

The 70-year-old Clovis woman opened her mailbox -- which is locked and accessible only to her and her letter carrier -- and discovered the enigmatic envelope.

It was resting on top of her mail and had a postmark of April 5, 1912, next to a red, two-cent George Washington stamp.

Even more strange, the envelope from the Remington Typewriter Co. in Los Angeles was addressed to "Mrs. Mary Brotman, R.F.D. 30, Burbank, Cal." Born doesn't know anyone by that name.

"I nearly tripped coming in the house," Born said. "I didn't look at the rest of my mail the rest of the day, I was so stunned."

She later spoke to her letter carrier, who did not know how the envelope got into Born's mailbox on March 18.

(Update: Marc Benjamin blogs about a new wrinkle to the story.)

For nearly a month, Born pondered her postal puzzle. After speaking with a friend who collects stamps, she learned the stamp itself is worth only 35 cents, so the envelope's value was negligible.

On Tuesday, some of the mystery was cleared up when she spoke to the other letter carrier on her route.

Carrier Tamara Garcia said she remembered putting the envelope into Born's mailbox. "That's you, isn't it?" Garcia asked Born, referring to the name on the envelope.

Born said the name was similar -- but not hers.

She had theorized that the empty envelope ended up in her mailbox by mistake. Born and 10 of her neighbors collect their mail in a community mailbox next to her home, and the mailbox also includes a drop box for outgoing mail.

Garcia said she had found the envelope in the outgoing mailbox and assumed that it was misdelivered mail that was intended for Born.

"I don't know who threw it in there [the outgoing mail]," Garcia said.

Born said she had planned to visit her 10 mailbox neighbors to see if they recognized the envelope.

But later Tuesday, she learned that the U.S. Postal Service wants to reclaim the nearly century-old envelope -- and possibly solve the mail mystery.

Garcia told Born that her boss wants her to try to find the person who placed the envelope in the outgoing maibox.