Daily news from Monterey County Weekly

ETC. Photo of the day by Agata Popęda. There are no mailboxes in Carmel-by-the-Sea because there are no house numbers. Instead, all residents use old-fashioned wooden Post Office boxes. Submit your best horizontal photos. (Please include the location where the photo was taken in the caption.)

The fairytale continues—though not without some unexpected hiccups.

Good afternoon.

Agata Popęda here, thinking about the challenges that may present themselves to the unassuming person who moves to Carmel without knowing anything about it. There are a few obvious dangers—I’m sure Carmelites, all 4,000 of them, each have a favorite quirk. 

Perhaps, as just one example, the newcomer-idiots’ mail will be lost because it will take them weeks to figure out why letters and packages are not coming. It will take a merciful Xfinity person to explain the situation (no home delivery), while refusing to set up an internet account at, let’s say, “6th (4) NW off Dolores,” or “The Hundred Acre Wood.”

Recently, Carmel Heritage Society President Thomas Bateman Hood told me about a conversation he had with Carmel Mayor Dave Potter. The remark was made in the context of new Carmel residents’ expectations when it comes to their immediate environment, privacy and services. Mayor Potter said that if someone wants to swim privately in their swimming pool, they should find a home “in the Valley” (Carmel Valley, that is) because Carmel was designed as a town for people to be social, even forced to leave the house and be together. Hence the lack of certain services.

So I left the house.

After realizing that my mail and Amazon packages (yes, I said it) will not be delivered, I went to downtown Carmel to seek human help and open a Post Office box. By then, I was completely lost in terms of where my IRS correspondence had been actually going, and had missed at least two house-warming gifts sent by traveling friends from weird locations (so no, they will not get re-delivered and my friends are righteously mad at me).

And there, in the U.S. Postal Service office located at 56B 5th Ave. Lot 1, my annoyance melted away. Even if you have no business in the Carmel post office, it’s worth visiting for a couple of minutes to take a look. It’s old and wonderful and open Monday-Friday from 9am-4:30pm and Saturday 10am-2pm. (Free 15-minute parking is located across the street, on the corner of Dolores and 6th.) 

The tiny population that lives in Carmel-By-the-Sea doesn’t have mailboxes because there are no house numbers in the village. Instead, they all use old-fashioned wooden P.O. boxes. There are 6,600 of them total—mine is 4766—because while the town population keeps oscillating around 4,000, boxes are in high demand and constant rotation. And Carmel is not alone—more than 4,000 communities nationwide don't have home mail delivery.

The best part of the experience is the combination lock—set as an ancient clock with letters from “A” to “J,” with an arrow that has to be turned without stopping a number of times clockwise or counterclockwise to form a three-letter code you were given. For example: “B” “B1/2” “C”. Sound cryptic? It is. And it’s manually challenging before you get used to it. Now, each time I open the box, my heart is beating very fast because I don’t really trust I’ll be able to break into this magical sarcophagus.

In other words, when I picked up a package containing my new wetsuit this morning (going swimming tomorrow night!), I felt more like Indiana Jones opening a magical chest than a regular citizen on her way to work. Only in Carmel!

-Agata Popęda, staff writer, aga@mcweekly.com

BY THE NUMBERS

The total number of people living in Carmel-by-the-Sea according to data from 2019. The Post Office in downtown Carmel has about twice as many P.O. boxes available for use.

LATEST LOCAL NEWS

As NFL season begins, an effort is underway to elevate the history of a quarterback who came from Salinas. Joe Kapp went to UC Berkeley and played for the Golden Bears in 1956.

When Lillian Barbeito saw the stage at the Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts, she heard angels singing. A new dance ensemble, Ballare Carmel, brings professional dancers from around the world to Carmel Valley.

Marine biologist Kevin Lewand never took the ocean for granted, and made it into his playground and career. This California kid who has always been around water joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium 20 years ago as a collector.

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LOCAL INSPIRATION

LOCAL INSPIRATION of the day. Nick Leonoff handblows a glass pumpkin at his workshop in Carmel Valley. Leonoff makes high-end sculptures for artistic satisfaction, and glass pumpkins to pay for his “bread and butter.” He is the one who approached nonprofit MEarth and suggested pumpkins as a surefire fundraising magnet. Photographed by Daniel Dreifuss. Submit your Local Inspiration (digital art, music, multimedia, video, etc.; please include the medium you’ve used, and note when and where it was created).

Carmel Public Library has a Community Night coming up. “Into the Deep,” a conversation about the secret lives of fishes with James Lindholm (a distinguished professor of marine science and policy and chair of the Department of Marine Science at CSU Monterey Bay) takes place at 7pm on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at Carpenter Hall (inside Sunset Center) and online. Register here


Sometimes, a drink can also be a meal. When it comes to chavelas, they’re a refreshing combination. It’s a hot day—you might want to pick up this warm-weather elixir.

BEST OF MONTEREY BAY® REAL ESTATE

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IN CONTEXT

California has the lowest coronavirus rate in the nation
- Los Angeles Times, Sept. 20, 2021

Company documents show that Facebook knows Instagram is toxic for teen girls. Its own in-depth research shows a significant teen mental-health issue that Facebook plays down in public.
- Wall Street Journal, Sept. 21, 2021

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HELPFUL DISTRACTIONS

Meanwhile in Canadamountain goat kills attacking grizzly bear with ‘dagger-like’ horns.

Paris's Arc de Triomphe is wrapped in fabrics after 60 years of planning. A long-standing vision of late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the full installation will be on view until Oct. 3.

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