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‘C’ for Census: How the Census solved my home’s mysterious mailbox engraving

By Barbara Marshall
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

For 22 years, I’ve wondered why there was a “C” on my mailbox door.

Now I know.

In 1940, John W. Cummings and his wife, Nora, owned my Flamingo Park house, according to just-released Census records. Cummings managed the Florida Theater on Clematis Street, now the home of Palm Beach Dramaworks.

He was from Tennessee, two years younger than his wife, and had completed only the eighth grade. Yet he made a comfortable $3,000 salary. At the time, his/my house, was valued at $6,000.

The mailbox is a cubby cut into an exterior wall that also served as a milk box for deliveries from the Alfar Dairy, a few blocks away, I’ve been told.

Now every time I retrieve a new batch of Bed, Bath & Beyond circulars and Pottery Barn catalogs, I’ll think of John and Nora.

And if they were the ones to install that hideous downstairs bathroom tile, I’d like a word.

Other posts about the 1940 Census: Vivid stories emerge from otherwise dry statistics and A tale of two lives from the 1940 Census

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Posted in Flashback blog May 3, 2012 at 7:54 am.

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