The postcard arrives 53 years late; Rossmoor native sees it as a love letter from beyond – Orange County Register
On August 26, 1968, a growing protest – led by counterculture activists soon known as “Chicago 7” – reached its boiling point at the Democratic National Convention.
That same day, Marie Nevins sent a 5,500 mile postcard to her family in Rossmoor.
“Greetings from LONDON,” he boasts, with photos of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square.
“Wow, this is a city unlike anything you’ve ever dreamed of,” Nevins wrote on the back in perfect cursive.
But whether his son and daughter-in-law ever got the chance to read the glowing review is a mystery.
Fifty-three years after it was mailed on September 7, 2021, the postcard landed in a mailbox in Cedar City, Utah.
“I immediately recognized my grandmother’s handwriting,” recalls Betsy Bender. “I said to my husband, ‘What’s in the world? Where has that postcard been for five decades? ‘ “
Bender’s mother, Verna Baccus, resided in her period home in Rossmoor – complete with the scalloped eaves and fake birdhouses iconic from the tract – until her death on July 24 at the age of 91.
On August 30, a week before the postcard materialized, Bender and his sister, Teri Hunter, joined forces to clean up their mother’s belongings.
Before returning to Utah, Bender registered his address with the local post office for any late mail. She expected utility bills and the like, not a blast from the past.
Bender wonders if the postcard is a message from the other side, with his mother and grandmother letting their loved ones know they’re okay.
“Either that or they were like, ‘How can we play with her? now? ‘ Bender joked.
“My grandmother was very funny. She pulled out her false teeth just to hear her grandchildren laugh.
In the days leading up to his death, Baccus could not speak. So it was Bender who spoke.
“It was a one-sided conversation,” Bender said. “I’m not good at discussing anything. I just talked about all the fun we had traveling, our cruises, our helicopter flight over New York, the Panama Canal.
Through tears, Bender recalled asking his mother to send a message wherever his final destination is.
“I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. I hear about people getting signs. I don’t know if it’s possible. But if you can, please let me know.
“Then the postcard came,” Bender said. “It’s so weird.”
Or could there be a more earthly explanation?
Maybe, for example, the postcard went unnoticed in the heaps of things thrown out of her mother’s house. Maybe he blew out of a trash can on a sidewalk. Maybe a passerby picked it up and slipped it into a collection box. Maybe that’s how he went to Utah with a “change of address” sticker.
“We deliver every piece of mail, regardless of the date stamped on it,” said Evelina Ramirez, a spokeswoman for the US Postal Service.
“I guess that’s the case here, given the timing of everything.”
Even so, Ramirez admitted that long-lost letters languished undetected at post offices. “It happens,” she said. “Absolutely, things can fall behind furniture.
Bender accepts the possibility of either scenario.
“Yet to me it’s incredible that it comes to me just weeks after my mother died,” she said. “It must mean something.”
The youngest of three daughters, Bender was 10 when her grandmother left for the world.
“I remember taking her to the airport,” Bender said. “The whole family is gone. It was a big deal. “
Divorced, Nevins reunited with friends for the fantastic trip. “I look back now and can appreciate how independent she was,” Bender said.
Nevins, who died 25 years ago at the age of 98, lived in Long Beach, not far from her grandchildren. They often slept with “Grandma”.
“She made what she called pallets out of sheets and blankets,” Bender said. “She would make one too and sleep on the floor with us. She was a lot of fun.
Growing up in Rossmoor was idyllic, in Bender’s memory.
“You know, it was that typical baby boomer story, playing outside until dark, biking around the neighborhood, hanging out with friends,” Bender said. Her mother was busy; a Girl Scout manager, a softball manager, a school volunteer.
Of course, childhood without bumps is rare. At the end of 1968, a few months after this postcard was supposed to arrive, Bender’s parents divorced. Bender’s father, real estate investor Bud Baccus, continued to live nearby, in another house in Rossmoor. He died in 2012.
The Baccus sisters then graduated from the then newly built Los Alamitos High. (Toni Nelson, the oldest of the three, died last year.)
Their mother, Verna Baccus, who had taken time off from her career to raise children, resumed her job as a registered nurse. A passionate bridge player, she finally achieved the high status of “Diamond Life Master”.
“Mom was the smartest, most spiritual person,” Bender said. “She had her brain until her last breath.”
Retired after 30 years as a sales representative for Hewlett-Packard, Bender and her husband Randy moved to Utah a year ago.
Reading her grandmother’s postcard brought her a whiff of nostalgia. “It was wonderful to hear the excitement in his words,” Bender said. “I can imagine him sitting down and writing it down.”
While the 1968 British stamp, then worth around 15 cents, certainly did not cover today’s delivery costs, the card arrived with no strings attached, as a request for additional postage.
“It wouldn’t have been the right thing to do, given that the original date was so long ago,” USPS spokeswoman Ramirez said.
“We enjoy sentimental things,” Ramirez added. “For the most part, if we have any idea that this might connect the past to the present, we’re just trying to make it happen.”
The card also had no new postmark, no “2021” on “1968” or “Los Alamitos” (or elsewhere) on “London”.
“Maybe whoever treated him decided not to change his story,” Ramirez suggested.
“We hear so many great stories like this,” she added. “I get goosebumps just thinking about it.”
Whichever route the postcard took from London to Cedar City, Bender said, the final delivery was fate.
“I really believe it was a sign,” she said. “How could I not?”