It started out as a routine visit to the post office to pick up our mail and ended with the purchase of the Armadillo mailbox.As we have for the past five summers since moving back East, we've had the mail held, since as the editor said, we spend the "lion's share" of our summer in the Avalon/Stone Harbor area.

We pick it up every 10 days to two weeks and know the rule that mail can't be held for more than 30 days at a time. However, this trip was different. When my husband tried to retrieve the mail, he was told that this process couldn't continue since the original card to hold the mail had a date of May 21 - more than two months ago - and mail delivery had not been resumed in that time frame.

What seemed to be a hassle to deal with soon turned into a hassle-free solution.

Our neighbors had recently purchased and installed an Armadillo mailbox. The Armadillo started out in the garage of Gary Taylor, an ex-fire-fighter in Escondido, Calif., and is able to hold up to two weeks worth of mail at a time. Taylor named the mailbox the Armadillo because it is strong and the name is easy to remember. He wanted the name to be "something with a hard shell and the turtles were all gone."

It's a good name; it sticks. Strong it is. This mailbox is made of 14-gauge steel and as the video that comes with the mailbox shows, it can withstand a Louisville slugger, a fire-bomb, and an M80. Primarily begun as a way to prevent vandalism and identity theft (95 percent of which is drug related), it also serves the purpose of durability and holds a large quantity of mail.

When the mail is delivered, the carrier tips a ledge that sends the mail down a long chute. The mail is then retrieved with a key that opens the lock located on the front or back.

Unfortunately such a system doesn't come cheap. The mailbox starts at $335 and the post starts at $55. It must be shipped from California and installed. However, like many things in life, the convenience may be worth the price. As a popular ad suggests: "a more stress free life - priceless."

Karen Lewis of East Marlborough Township says that the mailbox is "formidable enough that garbage trucks stay away from it, and once we trained the mail carrier, everything was fine."

Taylor sells about 50 of these mailboxes a week and has sold tens of thousands to California residents since starting his business in 1996. For more information visit

Sue Fisher is a reporter for THE KENNETT PAPER AND CHADDS FORD POST. She lives in East Marlborough Township.

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