'The Shoe' Mailbox

One would hardly imagine a mail box becoming a world famous landmark. Ridiculous, but it did happen. How so?

I could scarcely believe the validity of this story when first hearing it, so decided to add a visit to this landmark in my itinerary.

Mossel Bay, a town on the coastline half way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, South Africa is where this story took root.

THE HISTORY

In 1500 a sailor by the name of Pedro d’ Atiade was on his return voyage from the East when he docked in the bay of Saint Bra known today as Mossel Bay.

Pedro had encountered trouble in India and decided while on shore, to leave news of this as a warning for fellow sailors. Once documented, Pedro folded the letter the placed it in a shoe hoping it would be discovered by a curious seaman en-route. He then placed the shoe in the fork of a milkwood tree that grew close to the seashore.

DISCOVERY OF THE LETTER

In 1501 Admiral Da Nova was rounding the Cape when he was caught in a storm forcing him to drop anchor in Saint Bra.

On shore, he found the shoe wedged into the fork of the tree and delved into it out of curiosity and read the warning with gratitude.

Near to the milkwood tree he built a chapel in an expression of gratitude for the warning that saved the troops, and this became the first religious building in South Africa.

FIRST LETTER BOX

And so the first mailbox in South Africa was established.

To this day mail can be posted in the replica shoe built of stone that stands under the same milkwood tree.

All mail gets a ‘Special’ frank and like tourists one and all I posted cards to friends and family overseas. For a moment I was stepping back in time, and took time to sit under the tree to reflect on those early days.

THE POST OFFICE TREE

Today Mossel Bay with it’s population of 130,000 people welcome tourists to this famous site where benches provide a resting place in the shade of the foliage of the huge 500year old Milkwood tree, also known as the ‘Post Office Tree’.

Do share with all our hubpage friends the origin of your country’s first Mailbox.

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Comments 29 comments

Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 4 years ago

This is so adorable! Thanks for sharing on HP. What an amazing story this mailbox holds; it certainly deserves its recognition. And my, I would love to send postcards to my family and friends from it. Pinning this to my list of places I'll love to visit.


javeaspain profile image

javeaspain 4 years ago from Javea, Spain

Very nice overview thank you :)


DonnaCosmato profile image

DonnaCosmato 4 years ago from USA

What a fascinating story! Love your picture - it sounds like you had a wonderful time on your visit to this unique landmark.


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Carmen how nice of you to stop by and enjoy the little story with me. I posted cards to family members from the box and they were so delighted. It is a unique experience to receive this post.

Have a nice day!


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

I am pleased you enjoyed the read and thank you for leaving a comment!

Regards!


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Donna, I certainly did enjoy my visit to Mossel Bay as it is stooped in history. I am pleased you enjoyed this story as I did.

Thank you for leaving a comment!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

So wonderful to read a familiar story and see a tree and postbox I've actually seen in real life...

Thanks, LadyLyell for posting this.

Voted up, shared and pinned :)


aboutaustralia profile image

aboutaustralia 4 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

Another fascinating and interesting hub LadyLyell. It looks like a lovely cool spot to stop and rest awhile too.

I just did a quick google search for 'Australia's first mailbox'. Sadly it appears it has been lost to the passage of time, but I'll do some more digging and hopefully find something of interest.


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Martie, pleased to read that you could connect with this piece of South African history. I'm sure there is much more info on this Post Box than I related if one dug around in the history books.

Your support by vote is appreciated!


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Thank you for reading this little piece of history and leaving a comment.

I was wanting to know where Australia's first mailbox was so I hope you eventually find it. Please be sure to let me know where it was should you find out but I thought it could have been in Botany Bay as the history books often refer to mail posted there consigned to England.

I appreciate your input and hope the sun is shining over Newcastle today!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

What a charming and fascinating story! I love stories about places where tradition and history have been preserved in a unique way. Thanks so much for sharing this one!

As for mailing postcards at The Shoe, I had a similar thrill dropping postcards into the letterbox across from the steps of the chapel inside the grounds of Windsor Castle. No special franking, of course, but I did mention on each one where they were mailed from!

Voted up, awesome and interesting! ;D


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Jama, like yourself I love tradition and history all kept alive especially posting and receiving letters.

There was much significance to posting cards from Windsor Castle so I trust your friends realized that.

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment!


Dardia profile image

Dardia 4 years ago from Michigan

That must have been some feeling, sitting under the tree where this all happened. Fascinating story.


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Dardia,how right you are, it was fascinating sitting in the very same spot where history took place. I had to wonder what the size of the milkwood tree would have been in those early days. The trunk of this tree is thick and twisted making it different to other trees. The museum nearby had amazing items restored from the days of discovery of the Bay.

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!


iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

I miss you LadyLeyell! It looks like you are doing well after your move back to South Africa! This is a great story idea! I will look up to see when and where the US' first mailbox too and let you know!

I will definitely vote this up and share it!


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Hello Audra, how nice to hear from you.Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I do hope you find out where your first postbox was in America and please be sure to let me know when you do. I have a follower in Australia trying to find out where the fist box was there.

I hope life is being as kind to you as it has been to me despite my (our) big move.

From a cold and foggy coastline on the Southern tip of Africa I wish you well!

Thank you for the vote and share. How I appreciate your support!


iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

Update...from wicki..."In the late 18th century, a mailbox was set up at the current location of Boxtree Rd. and Lewis Rd in East Quogue, NY. It is the oldest recorded mailbox in the U.S.."


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

How interesting Audra, why was it established there? Just where the first postoffices were in counties is also interesting. The first postoffice in Terrigal NSW AUST where I was living is now a five star restaurant.

Thanks for the feedback. I think I will write a part 2 to this hub asking all readers to trace their first mailbox and list.

Would you like that task and we could connect the hubs?

Enjoy the day!


Sarena 4 years ago

We received postcards from you posted from this very mail box, thats incredible. Thanks for sharing the history behind this.


Sannel 4 years ago

Dear LadyLyell! How wonderful to read one of your hubs again. I'm so sorry I have not been in touch lately as much as I would have loved to, but since I am no longer a part of this wonderful "family" of hubbers, I feel sometimes its hard to keep in touch. Perhaps because my banning, happened at the same time I was hospitalized. That was a big blow at the time, and I'm still trying to cope with that and try to keep up my spirit and health. Anyway, my beautiful Lady, I hope life in SA treats you well. I hope that you are in good health and spirit. You have shared an interesting and fascinating story! It sure looks like a wonderful and cool rest stop under that tree. I truly enjoyed this read. Voted up! Take care, I will try to be around as much as possible. Hugs to you from Sannel and Sweden!


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Sannel, I have really missed you and so hearing from you has been wonderful. Please keep in touch. Wow, you have sure had a trying time of late and so let me know how your health is now and also, whether we will see you back on hubpages again.

Returning love to you from South Africa!


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

What a fun find and interesting bit of history! Some people really do make grand gestures to say thank you eh lol.

Shared, up and awesome.


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Hi Brett, glad you enjoyed this little bit of history as I did.

So good to hear from you!


CyberShelley profile image

CyberShelley 3 years ago

Hi LadyLyell, What a wonderful, heartwarming story from Mossel Bay! Voted up, interesting and shared!


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

What an awesome story! Love this. Sharing for sure.


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 3 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Thank you for taking time to read this little piece of history and pleased you enjoyed it.

Have a nice day!


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 3 years ago from George, South Africa Author

I find it quite a compliment coming from you such an experienced writer. Thank you and pleased you enjoyed the history as I did.

Have a nice day!


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I'd never heard of the shoe mailbox. What an interesting story! I enjoy your hubs about South Africa...thank you for sharing.


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 3 years ago from George, South Africa Author

Nice hearing from you again and pleased you enjoyed the story as much as I did about this unique mailbox.

Have a nice day!

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