Calvin White was processing a tray of letters recently when he came across one that stood out from the rest because of its postmark date: 1943.
The letter was part of a collection that also included a greeting card and several postcards, all addressed to members of the same family.
White, a clerk at the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, realized the mailpieces probably held great sentimental value.
“Letters like that are part of a family’s history,” he said.
White alerted Mail Recovery Supervisor Lawana Smith, who did some online sleuthing and tracked down one of the customers: Lucille Hilterbrand of Van Buren, MO.
Smith called the 98-year-old Hilterbrand, who explained the mailpieces were written by her brother during the World War II era. She recently came across the keepsakes while cleaning her home and decided to put them in an envelope and mail them to another relative.
Somehow the contents of the envelope become dislodged. When the relative never received the mementos, Hilterbrand feared they were lost forever.
So imagine her surprise when Smith called to say the mail had been found.
“Oh my stars!” Hilterbrand said. “How it [all] ended up in Georgia, I’ll never know.”
Smith was happy to reunite the customer with her missing mail. “I was … excited that I was able to find her and talk to her,” she said.
No one is more excited than Hilterbrand, who said this experience has reinforced her positive impression of the Postal Service.
“USPS does a good job,” she said.