By Ryn Gargulinski: Quay County Sun
For most, going to get the mail is no big deal.
But not so for some folks in Tucumcari who have jazzed up their curb with a splash of daisies, a hint of mint or a flash of John Deere green.
City residents will also find a Harley-inspired whip of flames on South Fourth Street, a red wooden truck perched atop a pole on South Fourth and a Rankin Avenue mailbox fashioned out of an old butane tank — cleaned out — and painted to resemble the giant cucumber from a kids’ vegetable cartoon show.
The only owner available to come out and speak about their mailbox, ironically, did not want to.
“I don’t want people coming over here to look at it,” he said.
Mail carrier Helen Ward, who works as part-time carrier and part-time clerk and has been with Tucumcari’s post office for the past five years, had a couple of theories about the spruced-up boxes.
In addition to being an outward expression of creativity, Ward said some mailboxes match the décor, the theme or the personality that goes with the house.
“The one with the daisies on it matches the owner,” Ward said. “She is neat and meticulous.”
Ward said an out-of-the ordinary mailbox can also brighten her day. She said she especially enjoys one that has a little “Hello there” note inside and the dolphin she runs across on South Fifth.
And yes, there are those she dreads approaching.
“There is one that is really hard to open,” she said, “and every time I get it open I poke my finger.”
She said she also despises the ones she cannot get closed. “The customer will get upset with me (when the mail gets wet) but I tried to close it,” she said.
Those who do go all out with their mailboxes in town seem to be on their own. Although several Tucumcari stores carry mailboxes, including Kmart, Tucumcari Ranch Supply and the hardware stores, they only have standard sizes and colors.
Tucumcari Ranch Supply owner Stella Watson said the most popular box in the store is the large aluminum box that sells for $32.30. She said she’s never received a request for a special order.
Oddly enough, Quality Lube and Tire happens to have a green and black flame mailbox for sale in the main office. Painted by Isaac Elebario, who also painted his own flamed box on South Fourth, a similar Harley one sold at the shop for $40, according to Quality Lube worker Kenneth Henderson.
“He does a lot of good work,” Henderson said of Elebario, an ironworker who likes to paint on metal.
Yet he still appeared unphased by the thought of a really cool mailbox.
“I’d rather have him paint my truck,” Henderson said.
Elebario, who has been painting since he was 18, said he got his start with pinstriping and custom painting on cars in California. Elebario, 27, said mailbox painting is just a side business that he does for effect.
“I want to make people trip out, to make them say ‘wow,’” he said.