Tales from the Tupperware

Thursday, October 27, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments


Day 14:  Beckley, WV to Greensboro, NC.  In addition to the mental and physical exercise that letterboxing frequently offers, some of our favorite aspects of letterboxing are the stories and places we experience that we probably would never have encountered had we not been searching for a tupperware container with a rubber stamp.  These can range from the momentous, like the Kentucky Raid in Cass County, to the obscure, like the story of the peanut toss.
Here's the tale told by the person who planted the letterbox we found near Kumlien Hall (pictured above) in the little town of Albion, Wisconsin.  We followed the clues and located the box near the meeting hall where the family has held their reunions for many years.
Picking up Peanuts
"In 1844, my great-great-great-grandfather came to the Albion Prairie area from England.  Starting that year, my family has held a family reunion in the area. As part of the reunion, the children play the peanut toss game. The eldest able member of the family in attendance gets the honor of tossing out the peanuts, and each child gets a small bag to fill up with their savory loot. We do not know exactly how many years we've been tossing peanuts, but we do have a photo of it, circa 1910. The children seem as excited about the peanuts in that photo as they still do today. In living memory, it's been happening every year, and my grandfather said he did it as a boy, too. This year's reunion was the 153rd." 
Of course, the stamp in the letterbox was a peanut— the one the kids didn't find at the reunion.
Another little known event we learned about searching for a letterbox was an incident involving the legendary Elvis Presley that occurred in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1977.  According to the "Elvis Presley Fight Scene" plaque at the spot commemorating the incident:
Elvis saved the day.
"On this site, the corner of Hwy 51 and East Washington Avenue, around 1 a.m. on June 24, 1977, Elvis Presley was riding in the second of two limousines which had stopped for a red light.  He was coming from a concert in Des Moines and had just arrived in Madison.  Elvis noticed a young teen on the ground being beaten by two other youths here at the former Skyland service station.  Elvis jumped out of his limo and moved quickly to the fight scene.
"Later the youths admitted that they knew it was the legendary Elvis Presley standing in front of them in his classic karate stance, saying, 'I'll take you on.'  After a few karate moves by Elvis, the youths shook hands and promised to stop fighting.  Elvis asked, 'Is everything settled now?'
"He was on his way to the the Sheraton and his last Madison appearance.  He died 52 days later."

And then there are the tales of the mundane that turn into the dramatic when a storm blows in.
The birdhouse photographed and as a stamp
"A couple of chickadees were building a nest in our birdhouse.  A few weeks passed, and we had a very bad storm.  The birdhouse was blown down. Four of the baby chickadees had fallen out of the nest and were lying on the brick path. Only one survived and I picked it up and returned it to the birdhouse where two other siblings were waiting.  I ran in the backdoor and watched the birdhouse from the kitchen window. Almost immediately, Mama Bird returned. Mama Bird and Papa Bird swapped shifts, caring for their babies.  We had fun watching the baby birds grow up and eventually leave their nest.
"Later that summer, Mama and Papa Bird were back. They re-used the nest from the spring and hatched another healthy brood of babies. We had so much fun watching them grow and learning to fly!
"We became very accustomed to having our new “tenants” flying and singing around our yard. We talked all winter about whether or not to expect our new friends back this year. We cleaned out the old nest in early March and made sure the support wires were still tight in preparation of their possible return.  I returned home from work one day in April to be greeted by none other than Papa Bird.  He was back surveying his home from last year and making sure that things were the same. Soon they rebuilt the nest and another brood was about to hatch."

Not every letterbox has a great story to share, but we relish those that do and appreciate the efforts of the letterboxer to present the stamp and tell the tale.
  • Started in: Beckley, WV
  • Ended in:  Greensboro, NC
  • Miles driven: 225          (Trip total:  2,895)
  • States: 3 (WV, VA, NC)          (Trip total:  13)
  • Letterboxes found:  3           (Trip total:  86) 
  • Weather: Rainy to sunny, 49° to 75°
  • Gas:  $3.199 (Wytheville, VA)
  • Fall leaf colors:  126

Fall color near Lambsburg, VA