When the boxes from Anchorage, Alaska began arriving at the Waukee, Iowa post office, on some days two dozen at a time, Postmaster Lyle Smith didn’t know what was going on. So he called Connie Drost, the woman to whom the boxes were addressed, and she calmly informed him, “They’re moving.”
Like continental drift and plate tectonics, the inexorable relocation of Drost’s sisters, Lanna Scott and Darlene Erickson, had begun. But unlike the forces of nature or even most normal people, these two women were moving by mail.
The two stamp-happy ladies didn’t consciously set out to move all their household goods by post; it just ended up that way. Explains Scott, “The estimates from movers were so expensive we thought we’d at least mail our books at the cheaper fourth-class rate. Then we began to think of other things…. It sort of snowballed. Pretty soon we were clearing out a closet at a time and getting together once a week to mail off bunches of boxes.”
In the boxes, most of which were addressed to their sister Connie in Waukee, were tires, a TV set, carpets, records, pots and pans, clothes, dishes and lamps. Postal regulations limit package size to no more than 70 pounds, with total length and girth not to exceed 108 inches. “We were amazed at what would fit within the rules,” says Scott. “We measured an ironing board twice to make sure, but it fit.”
The only things that had to be shipped conventionally were a love seat and a dogsled. That cost about $300. And while the sisters didn’t keep precise records, Scott figures mailing their goods cost about $800, considerably less than the $1,500 or more a moving company might have charged. Lanna also points out that of all the personal effects they sent through the mail, the only casualty was one clay figure from a Nativity scene.
Saintly Postmaster Smith insists that the postal employees enjoyed being part of the fun and there were no problems, since Drost was prompt about collecting everything as soon as it arrived. The move behind her, Scott decided to give the U.S. Postal Service a rest. Says she, “I didn’t send one Christmas package this year.”