Playing With Junk Mail


I’m a couple days late on this prompt, but I loved the idea so much I decided it’s better to be late than not participate at all.

Courtesy of The Daily Prompt: Bookworms:

Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

– – –

After opening Elegy for Eddie (Maisie Dobbs#9) to a random page, I counted ten words and ended up on the word “porter.” This is one of the images that showed up in a Google image search:


Magdalene Cambridge Porters Lodge
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

When I was a kid, my sister and I loved to play post office. My grandfather took a cardboard box and added slots along with labels, so we could pretend to sort mail like they do at the post office. To make it even more realistic, we’d go to the post office and take all the junk mail out of the trash cans so we could have “real” mail to put into the slots. Looking back, I can’t believe we dug through trash cans and took other people’s discarded mail. My grandmother, however, justified it by telling us it was trash and therefore belonged to no one. I laugh about it now, but as an adult, I never ever throw anything into a post office trash can!  After all, there could be a child with an overactive imagination digging through the trash.

We got envelopes that were stuffed with everything from coupons, credit card offers, insurance pitches, product advertisements, charity mailers, and Publisher’s Clearing House entry packets. When we weren’t sorting the envelopes into the slots, we were opening them and playing with the contents. I must have filled out hundreds of credit card applications (in a way this prepared me for adult life!) and completed dozens of Publisher’s Clearing House entry forms.  Publisher’s Clearing House envelopes were my favorite because they were filled with so many fun things! Back in my day, they sent a folded sheet of magazine stamps or stickers to stick on the entry form. I played with those stamps on the entries, but I also pretended they were postage stamps for my play mail.

After playing with the insides of the envelopes, we’d seal them back up again and sort them as if they were coming into a different post office.  This little game of imagination entertained my sister and I for countless hours. It’s amazing how something so simple can be so much fun.

While children today enjoy incredible technology, I often wonder if they are missing out on simple imaginary play. My sister and I could play all day without a battery charger or a lit up screen. We played everything from office, grocery store, salon, and restaurant. They were games to us, but they helped us face the real world with a creative spirit and a certain element of fun. To this day, going to the post office makes me smile.

– – –

c.b.w. 2013


18 thoughts on “Playing With Junk Mail

  1. Great memory! Since I was the oldest, I was always playing ‘teacher’ to my younger brothers. 🙂

    At our local children’s museum, we have an old train and a post office inside one of the coaches, teaching youngsters about how the trains were used, back in the day. They also have ‘junk mail’ that the kids can sort and place into the various mail slots.

    I agree that today’s technology is robbing kids of their imagination. I think we’re stifling their creativity the moment we hand them a game controller or a TV remote control. If you ever watch a child under school age, the first thing they will run to is a big empty box because it is filled with so many possibilities. 🙂


  2. I completely agree with the technology thing. Now many art journalers use junk mail to make journal pages or cut them up for collage. It’s AMAZING what they come up with. When J. was little the neighbor kids all played bank and got upset that I wouldn’t donate my old checkbooks and such.


  3. That is so much fun ! Unfortunately all I have at my desk right now are submarine books which bring up all kinds of complicatef images that im only currently creating memories for.
    Even with my dad being a mailman, we never played post office. We would play school.
    I have to start blogging again with fun stuff like this !


  4. p bennett

    It‘s amazing what a little bit of imagination can do! Oh what we could do with a box, some tape and a marker. If we were really lucky, some paint & brushes. I remember many a box being converted into a fort, a house, a castle, a bomb shelter, a cave or whatever else our mood & imagination cooked up. It did help us grow and dream and become who we are now. I agree that I think many children lose out to technology because they don‘t role play the same and spend time in the pretend world. Shame.


  5. Those kinds of games are always the best! I don’t recall playing post office (though I know I often played with the junk mail, especially those fake credit cards), but a favorite of mine was playing restaurant. The toy Tupperware cups and my doll tea sets saw quite a bit of action in the serving industry. : )


  6. settleandchase

    I remember these kinds of hours spent imagining and pottering – I used to empty out the larder and play shops by stacking up all the cans and packets and “selling” them. It took hours and hours, but I really think these things help creativity to flourish..I just feel sad seeing kids staring at screens..I just don’t think it does the same brain feels numb after a few hours on the computer! It’s hard not to miss those days!


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