As a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester MA (where I earned my BA in English in 1980), I have a subscription to Holy Cross Magazine that comes quarterly in the mail. The latest edition, for Winter 2021, included an article that brought back so many poignant memories for me. It was called “Ode on a P.O. Box,” and I found it as I flipped through the glossy pages and came upon an image that stopped me in my tracks: a picture of the vintage bronze-gilded Holy Cross P.O. boxes—the very same ones that lined a hallway in the Hogan campus center at HC back in my day.
Anachronistic! As in "pertaining to or containing an anachronism [which is something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time]." Oh my, no wonder I feel so sad hearing that those P.O. boxes known to so many generations of HC alumni are gone now. (They are gone, the article says, but "remain beloved.") I, too, have become a bit anachronistic, I fear! The times, they are a-changin', so swiftly that it makes my head spin. And I find myself feeling deeply nostalgic for an earlier time to which I belonged, a simpler time. A time when people routinely kept in touch via hand-written letters.
I don't remember my P.O. box combination, but I'll never forget my number: 981. That was my postal address for all four years that I lived on that bucolic college campus in New England, atop what was always called simply "The Hill." I can remember being filled with anticipatory excitement every time I went down that hallway lined with old-fashioned-looking, ornate little bronze boxes, hoping against hope that when I opened mine I would find a letter from my boyfriend (my high school sweetheart who was far, far away during those years, out at Notre Dame in South Bend, IN—now my husband of 40 years).