‘Special delivery:’ Letter arrives 45 years later

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids man found a decades-old letter in his mailbox Thursday that had been sent to the address well before he lived there.

24 Hour News 8 helped Evan Koons track down the woman who sent the letter to her family while backpacking through Europe in 1974.

It’s unclear why the letter took nearly 45 years to arrive at its destination, but by the time it was delivered to the Union Street SE home, Koons was the homeowner.

The envelope is clearly aged and has unexplained stains. It was delivered in a plastic bag bearing an apology from the U.S. Postal Service.

“Dear Postal Customer, we sincerely regret the damage to your mail by the Postal Service,” the note on the bag began. “We hope this incident did not inconvenience you.”

There was no explanation for the long delay in delivery.

Koons turned to Facebook and then called 24 Hour News 8 to help find the sender, and within hours, he was sharing his mailbox discovery with Mary Vaughan Brady, who wrote the letter.

“Special delivery for you,” he said as he arrived at her home in northeast Grand Rapids.

“It’s amazing that you found me,” Brady responded.

The strangers became much closer after the unexpected Thursday evening introduction. A few letters penned on cheap stationery brought them together.

“I can’t believe it,” Brady exclaimed.

She told 24 Hour News 8 that she was 19 years old when she wrote the letter. In June 1974, she had just graduated from community college in Grand Rapids. Her wedding was set for later that year, so she a friend decided to take a trip through Europe beforehand.

“I’d never seen a mountain at that point,” she recalled, “never been on a plane ride, never stayed in a hotel, anything.”

Brady said that for nine weeks, she didn’t call her parents and five siblings. Instead, she scribbled letters so they could experience what she saw.

It was also a way for her to reflect on when she returned — even if that reflection came in 2019.

Brady said it was a timely find because she just was inspired by a Netflix show to clear out some things. Earlier this week, she went through some of the other letters and photos she had kept from the special trip.

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