MILWAUKEE — Beloit native Tom Ramsden did not think it was unusual to receive a postcard from his parents earlier this month, but after talking with his mother Joycelyn Ramsden he found out the note was from a trip to Mount Rushmore that his parents took nearly two decades ago.
Tom said the postcard came with a note that said it was found in Green Bay on June 11, but no other information was left regarding its long journey through the post.
“Pre-COVID they would take yearly trips and I figured it was from a year ago, but when I asked about it she said it was from 2004,” Tom said. “I was like, ‘wow, where has this thing been?’ It’s rather weathered and someone took care to tape the edges and send it to me.”
Joycelyn said she and her husband, Charles, took a trip across America in 2004 to visit 12 major historic sites in the United States and sent postcards back along the way. She recalled sending the postcard a day before heading West to visit parts of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
“It still has the original stamp on it, and I don’t know where it’s gone, but it turned up,” Joycelyn said.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, the amount of mail that was undeliverable as addressed annually sits at around 5%, but the percentage rate of ‘lost mail’ cannot be measured. The postal service says properly addressed letters can sometimes be misplaced, found and then delivered—but that is considered rare.
The USPS Mail Recovery Center (MRC) in Atlanta is the official lost and found for all packages and letters that cannot be delivered. Known as the “Dead Letter Office” the center works to reunite undeliverable packages and letters with either the sender or the recipient. In 2014, the year most recent data was available, the MRC received 88 million items and returned 2.5 million items to customers, a resolution rate of 3% of all incoming items, according to USPS.
Both Tom and Joycelyn said they hoped to learn more about the postcard’s long, strange trip.
“They’ve always sent postcards and were big on writing letters,” Tom said. “Now when we go on trips we try to write them. It’s died out a little bit, but my biggest thing is wanting to know the other half of this story.”