Little boxes

Ace, is there a single USPS blue mailbox between the railroad tracks adjacent to Water Street and Mill Creek, including all of Belmont? If so, I can’t find it. Has regular mail finally vanished, or am I just looking in the wrong places?—Blue-Box-Deprived-In-Belmont

If you’re worried that non-electronic communication is going the way of the radio star, dear reader, take heart: from the god’s-eye view of a Google Maps mash-up, Ace counted five little blue USPS icons. They’re spread pretty easterly throughout Belmont, though. You’ll find two along Monticello Road, the first at the Tufton Avenue intersection and the second at the Holiday Food & Deli near Druid and Rives; another at 1301 Carlton Avenue, in the business park; a fourth where Monticello Avenue crosses Elliot, near the Church of the Nazarene.

Due to Ace’s aversion to physical exertion and the fact that he’s no longer welcome in much of Belmont—let’s just say Ace crossed the wrong dulcimer-playing Sufi dervish—he opted not to verify these locations in person.

Besides, something was bugging him about that fifth mailbox, putatively located where Avon Street meets Altavista and therefore the only one that falls, as the carrier pigeon flies, between the Water Street tracks and Mill Creek. It doesn’t exist. Ace must have clicked up and down Avon on Google Street View a dozen times before rolling out of bed, mounting his Segway, and zipping down to the intersection for some IRL investigation. Same situation—no mailbox in sight.

Instead, Ace found himself outside a Stoney’s Grocery. Stepping in to purchase a breakfast burrito and a lottery ticket, Ace felt a sudden tingling—not the pangs of alcohol withdrawal this time, but a hunch. To the left, sitting inconspicuously on a plastic chair, was a little white cardboard box, and inside of the box, a solitary letter. Ace received confirmation from the cashier that this was indeed a USPS service node, with 11am pick-up Monday through Saturday.

Having found the information he was looking for, Ace made a hasty exit. He was pushing his luck with the shirt-shoes policy, and besides, this was dervish territory.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 20 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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