I come from a long list of "pack rats." My grandfather had a barn full of old things he thought he might someday need, and my father also had a collection of junk in his barn, just in case it might be useful. I carry on the family tradition with my own barnful of miscellaneous old items.
It is always gratifying to come upon a circumstance where you can actually use something you have saved. I'm sure my dad would be happy to know that I was able to make use of something from his collection.
When my mom's mailbox got shattered the other night by a truck that went off the road, I figured that I would have to buy a new mail box, but my mom who still has an incredibly sharp memory at the age of 94 said, "You should check in the barn. There might be one in there," so before going to the hardware store, I went into the cobwebby and rusty world of my father's barn.
There was a diverse cache of things out there in the barn, everything from scrap lumber to decaying lawn furniture, and amazing, I found an old mailbox, still on a post. It had been a victim of a previous collision with an errant driver. It was bashed in at the top, but still useable. I wiped off the cobwebs and dragged it over to my mom's house.
I banged it back into its previous shape as best I could with a hammer, I did have to buy a new can of spray paint (I couldn't find a suitable color from my family's collection of used spray paint, although I did find an old can with just enough red paint to color the mailbox's flag.) Being too cheap to buy letters for the address number, I drew out the numbers, on a piece of scrap paper and made a stencil.
I remembered seeing some black-capped cans of old spray paint at my sister's place. I taped the stencil on the box then discovered that what I thought was black spray paint, was actually clear varnish, so I ended up using an old can of regular black paint, which I dobbed with an old paintbrush that I found. My stencil didn't work very well, but the number is legible.
I concede that the resulting mailbox is not the most beautiful one in the neighborhood, but given the history of mailboxes along our curve, it only has to survive a short time until the next careless driver blows it away.