As a Pickleball player, apparently one of the fastest growing sports in the country, I travel around the City of Surrey seeking players and games.  One of my routes to drive toward some indoor and more recently, outdoor courts in Cloverdale includes a strip along 24th Avenue in South Surrey which has been in a large growth spurt of development over the past several years. 

About four years ago an idea floated through my head to take some pictures of the varied mailboxes I had noticed along the way. I mentioned this to my husband a few times when he was with me as we drove past, then promptly forgot about it once we would arrive at our destination to play our games.

A year later, a sense of urgency arose to get the photos taken, as I noticed more and more construction happening in the area – noting I may discover one day that I missed my opportunity. I was concerned that with progress of development, many of the large homes tucked into the acreages may come down, other structures or multiple accommodation units would go up and the mailboxes would disappear.

In June of 2017, somehow I convinced my husband to be my chauffeur, that he could drive, I’d yell, “stop here,” and he’d comply, finding some safe spot to pull the car over while I hopped out and took a few photos with different angles of the many strange and to me, beautiful mailboxes.

We chose a particular section of road and my husband dutifully started and stopped as commanded and complied with my whims of, “stop here, go there, and turn around and go back,” just because he’s that kind of compliant hubby to an imaginative wife.

I didn’t know what to do with my photos, whether to submit them to the local paper, try to recreate on canvas as paintings, create some fictional stories or just hang on to them for one day when they would be needed. 

When the opportunity arose to write about Surrey, the mailboxes immediately came to mind.

I managed to get fifty-four photos that day, which included some flowers I enjoyed, some fenced off areas being readied for development and the statue of modern-day metal mailboxes where many people come to one location to collect their various items.

Since taking the photos, I’ve continued to travel along the same 24th Avenue route, on my way for more Pickleball games, noting that some of the mailboxes have indeed disappeared, making me ever more thankful I finally got around to obeying that original creative urge.

This is my offering of a handful of mailbox photos as a snippet of Surrey’s history, a few miles of travel down one strip of road, of which the landscape is drastically changing.

Valerie Priebe has lived in a dozen homes in the City of Surrey. With drawers full of journal writing of a troubled childhood, non-fiction stories emerged, shared with family, friends, recovery groups and Living in Truth, When not writing or painting pictures or entertaining her recently retired husband and 20lb cat, Valerie can be found on a pickleball court.

PHOTOS: by Valerie Priebe

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