Do You Know Anyone In Buffalo?


Steve Nauman

Those years I spent growing up and working in my father’s general store, taught me so much about business, people, and basically life and how to enjoy it! It was a true country general store, with a U. S. Post Office in the back. (my Uncle Stan was the Postmaster) There were individual mailboxes on the front side of the Post Office where people in town would come in every day and get their mail. You could usually tell if someone was expecting a check, because they would be waiting for the mail to be sorted to see if the check came! One person had a routine of taking their mail from their box and walking directly to the trash can and ‘sort’ their own mail, usually saying: junk….. junk….. junk….. bill (set it aside) junk….. junk….. huh (set it aside) junk….. bill (set it aside) junk. Then he’d look up and say: “another worthless day’s mail”.

But once in awhile I saw some people do something that I could never figure out….. It was almost a version of “Johnny Carson as Carnac The Magnificent“ when he would hold an envelope to his head and give an answer-then tear open the envelope and read the question!
Well, what I sometimes saw some people do was to take a letter that was addressed to them, but it had a partial or no return address and they’d hold it up to the light trying to figure out who sent it! Some would hold it up to the lights on the ceiling….. then turn it over….. hold it up again….. then go over to the dairy cooler and hold it tightly against the glass and turn their head sideways trying to figure it out. I would always just watch that and think: “why don’t you just open it up and read it?” But I also noticed one other thing….. on the rare occasion that one was able to solve one of those “mysteries”….. WOW! It was almost like the Lombardi Trophy was coming to town!

I specifically remember one of those times because this particular man tried to involve me in his “mystery”….. This man came in as usual to get a snack and his mail, and as he was leaning against the ice cream freezer looking over his mail, I heard him say: “huh”. Followed by: “huh”….. and he starts turning an envelope over and over, then end-over-end, like it has no front or back….. Then I hear him say: “Buffalo”….. “Buffalo”….. “Buffalo”….. and he starts holding the envelope up to the light. First the front side, then the back side, over to the dairy cooler and he held it up to the glass, turning it over on the other side, saying out loud again: “Buffalo”. Then he looked over at me and said: “Do You Know Anyone In Buffalo?” I just said: “Can’t say that I do”. Then he asked: Did anyone from here move to Buffalo?” I told him that I didn’t remember anyone moving to Buffalo.
About then, another man came in the store and the first man asked him: “Do You Know Anyone In Buffalo?”— and showed him the letter. That man started holding it up to the light and trying to guess on some of the writing from inside—but nothing for sure… he gave it back and moved on. He then came over and showed me the envelope. It was addressed to him and his family and it had a return street address from Buffalo NY, but no name. I told him that maybe it was from someone who lived somewhere else and they just moved to Buffalo and they’re letting you know. Then he said: “No that can’t be it cause they would have told me.” Then he headed for the door and said: “I’m gonna have to show this to the wife and see if she can figure it out.” And he left without ever opening the letter to see who it was from or what it was about!
I never did understand the mystery or intrigue of a letter with a missing or incomplete return address….. Maybe it was in-part related to the time and place, and how some people didn’t have many connections with others except through the mail.

As I think about us today, I wonder if some of us have unopened ‘letters’ sitting around—letters that contain life changing truths? Because all of the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and much of the New Testament are Epistles or ‘letters’—written by man, but inspired by God! And since it is the true Word of God, I have found that it “speaks” to me differently at different times of my life.
One thing I can guarantee you is that all of the ‘letters’ in God’s Word, will forever be greater than any letter from Buffalo!

Till Next Time…..

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Steve Nauman

These wonderful posts are written by my good friend Steve Nauman. He lives on a farm in northern Indiana with his wife, Ruth.

He owned and operated a machine shop until 2020. These stories come from the people and experiences that made lasting impressions upon him as he grew up in his father's general store in Upstate NY and later in his own business.