Photo by ADAM WOLFFBRANDT (Lincoln Journal Star)
Brad Robinson puts up the new mailbox for his grandfather.
So many ways to kill a rural Nebraska mailbox.
“Blown up with fireworks, homemade bombs, attacked with any kind of blunt-force object,” former Lancaster County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Brandl said. “The limit’s your imagination.”
But the weapon of choice near North First Street and Waverly Road?
“Ball bat,” Hubert Fox said.
Vandals nailed Fox's mailbox last week. They returned to do more damage the next night -- so much that he figured he'd have to head to Menards, buy another new one and screw it to the post.
Just as he’s done 17 times already since 1984.
But Brad Robinson of North Platte gave his grandfather a custom-made mailbox Saturday – a mailbox made of iron.
Fox is the father of Brenda Robinson of North Platte.
Her son Brad welded the new mailbox from 3/16-inch thick metal at his workplace, TK Welding, then put it in his pickup and took it to grandpa's. He hopes that'll fix 'em.
Fox told the Journal Star that the 17 boxes he's replaced don't count "the times I’ve done body and fender work on them, getting them straightened out.”
He’s reported some, but not all. One, a deputy driving by reported to him.
“He asked me if I knew my mailbox got killed last night. It was flattened clear to the ground.”
No suspects. No way to know whether 18 mailboxes is a vandalism record, Sgt. Scott Gaston said.
“But that’s a lot of times.”
A lot of money at Menards, too: About $900 so far, Fox said.
Some mailboxes he was able to repair and return to service two or three times before they suffered fatal, final blows. Others were gone with a single strike. One disappeared altogether, screws and all.
He figures the vandals are kids, who grow up and grow out of it but get replaced by another generation. And they’re drawn to his mailbox -- and not his neighbors’ -- because he can’t see them swinging at it.
“You can’t see it from the house. That’s the ones they prey on.”
In the past year, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office responded to nearly 50 reports of damaged mailboxes. And in the 25 years Brandl spent as a deputy, he learned they were a common part of policing in Nebraska.
“Right up there with the car-deer accidents or cattle on the roadway.”
This report was published June 10 in the Lincoln Journal Star. Reprinted with permission of the Journal Star. George Lauby contributed to this article.