Cincinnati, Ohio June 2001

Maginot Mailbox

Bat-hoisting vandals, beware

When he used to hawk his mailboxes at home shows, Magro was often approached by vandalism sufferers who would launch into vivid descriptions of their dream mailboxes. He says, "People would take out pencil and paper and draw World War Two tank traps"—devices that would impale the chassis of a car on a hidden steel beam were someone to try to ram the mailbox. "Others wanted to know if I'd make them a mailbox with concertina wire around it." Magro declined such requests, pointing out that liability issues would likely arise were someone to build a mailbox system the intent of which was to maim or kill.

At Magro's suggestion I took a drive through Indian Hill, an affluent northeastern suburb. On winding lanes and along major thoroughfares alike I spotted dozens of Veeders mailboxes, tidy and uncreased, lined up like soldiers against an unseen enemy. This fortifying of the suburbs may strike some as an occasion for hand-wringing—further evidence that an erosion in quality of life is creeping from hard-bitten cities to once idyllic provinces. But I don't see it that way. In an era when computer hackers are stealing credit-card numbers and nasty animal-borne viruses are transgressing national borders, it's reassuring to know that sometimes all it takes to get a good night's rest is just a stouter piece of steel.

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Wayne Curtis is an Atlantic contributing editor.

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