American icon disappears without notice

William Everett was ready to do what he had done for 32 years as he drove up to drop mail in the blue collection box on Lakewood Drive in Luling, but it was gone.

“Everybody uses it,” Everett said, lamenting the loss of the box.

The U.S. Postal System disagrees and maintains a survey showed they were underused.

Pretty in blue, these boxes had become a well-recognized symbol of the postal system in communities throughout the United States. But they, too, fell victim to the system’s ongoing budget efforts to keep mail delivery affordable and, recently, they were collected in the New Orleans Metro area.Everett said he doesn’t expect the box to return – and he would be right.

While the collection boxes may have made a slow departure in his area, their number has dwindled by more than 12,000 in the past five years, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

It states some customers have complained it went too far in their removal from neighborhoods, but it maintains they had become too costly to maintain with some of the boxes barely used.

As in other areas of the U.S., Everett and others also noticed their disappearance in Luling.

Everett, as did neighbor Irene Tastet, also questioned their removal, maintaining the receptacle provided a safe way to mail sensitive mail that included checks or goods.

“I told them that box has been around since 1967,” Everett said. “Is it too much to put some blue paint on it once in a while?”

Tastet, who had also used their neighborhood’s box for 32 years, said it disappeared with no notice and no replacement.

“We’re just a little upset about it,” she said.When she questioned the removal with the Luling Post Office, she was also told the amount of mail being deposited did not justify the cost of maintaining the box so it was removed.

Both she and Everett said the box avoided an inconvenient trip to the Luling and Boutte post offices, particularly when faced with maneuvering through the notoriously dangerous traffic of U.S. Highway 90.

Tastet conceded “the Post Office is trying to keep up with the changing times,” but she added it is really driving people away to wireless service to do business. The Internet and e-mail have taken a toll on mail delivery, but Tastet maintained the boxes offered convenience and “it should still be part of their service.”

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