When I was a Child, Something Extraordinary Happened…

Bonnie Longbotham

Me…no age on the back of the photo, so ???

I might have won a spelling bee or finished first in a footrace, but decades later, I really can’t remember. Truthfully, in hindsight, it may not have been all that glorious. But what was extraordinary and what I do recall, distinctly, is that after my achievement was published in my hometown newspaper, I got mail. A real letter with an actual stamp. My first. And, surprisingly, it came from Mayflower Movers.

Now, although that’s the name that stuck in my head for years, I’m not even sure it’s accurate or if they’re still around. Let’s Google them…hang on…I’m doing it now. Oh, wow…yep…there they are. Now it’s Mayflower Transit…sounds a bit more sophisticated, right? Says they’ve been in business since 1927. As I think back, the card was intensely green, flirting between kelly and hunter. Today, their corporate color feels brighter, more modern, kelly with a lime complex. See?

Who knows what the card actually said – probably some twist on congratulations – but I’ll never forget the moment the newspaper clipping drifted out into my lap. The printing was slightly faded, as though it had been sitting in the sun on someone’s desk, waiting to be handled. When I picked it up, the thin paper crackled slightly in my fingers. The edges had been trimmed precisely, carefully, as to not inadvertently nip off a single letter.

This happened decades before social media closed the gap and personalized the connection between customers and companies. A big, seemingly faceless organization reached out to recognize a small child, and that single act of kindness has stayed with me for a lifetime.

Occasionally, over the years, I’ve seen one of their green and gold tractor-trailers on a highway somewhere. And it feels familiar. And suddenly I’m five or seven or nine or whatever-I-was, and I’m curled up in a patch of sunlight in the far corner of the scratchy green and gold couch in the living room of my childhood home. I can hear my mother’s heels clacking as she walks over to me, crossing the small patch of hardwood between the carpeted hallway and living room rug. My little brother, surely an imp reincarnated, pops up out of nowhere and snatches the card from my hand, anxious to see what fascinates me. I smell lasagna bubbling in the oven. And I’m wearing plaid…when I look down at the clipping in my lap, my pleated skirt is plaid.

To this day, I find it incredible that one piece of direct mail instigated a memorable, tactile experience that has forever lodged a brand in my brain…and in my heart.

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