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home : columns : dave fjeld August 21, 2017

3/6/2013 9:28:00 AM
Epilogue to '66 package mystery
If you thought the mystery of the 1966 package that showed up at the Windom Post Office in December had ended, the package's eventual recipient, John Onkka of Baldwin, Wis., reports that there's a, well, "epilogue," to the story.
To quickly review: You'll remember that just before Christmas the Windom Post Office received a package with an October 1966 postmark addressed to Arthur Johnson at 1125 6th Ave. in Windom. However, Arthur Johnson had passed away in 1982 and his daughter, Dolores (Johnson) Onkka, also had died.
In working with the Cottonwood County Historical Society, they found his grandson, John Onkka, to whom they sent the package. It was later learned that the package contained President Nixon political cartoons from the 1970s, just as was noted on the outside of the large envelope.
However, no one seemed to know how the package wound up in the mail.
That is until a recent exchange of e-mails between relatives. Actually, it was Arthur Johnson's son, William Johnson, who now lives in Florida, who originally stuffed the envelope full of the cartoons.
And thanks to an e-mail from John Onkka, here's how the Johnson family believes the package with the 1966 postmark landed in the mail stream:
It seems that William Johnson (Arthur's son) owned a house in Wayzata that was sold in November. Two of William's four children and a daughter-in-law cleaned the house and found several items that they decided to send to their sibling, Dan, who lives in Alaska.
And that's where William's daughter Nancy (Dan's sister and John's cousin), picks up the story.
Nancy explains that she and her siblings sent some of the items to Dan via UPS and some via "parcel post." The parcel post package contained a coffee cup, Christmas stockings, a folder full of Dan's sixth-grade work, a hammer and the now famous envelope full of political cartoons.
Writes Nancy: "The package was sent in mid-November and it was never thought of again, until . . . . John contacted us about a mysterious, long-lost package. I thought, 'Oh that's weird. I sent some political cartoons to (Dan).' In addition, I thought that it was strange that my brother had not made comments about the package that we had sent him."
The story took another turn when the buyer of William's house in Wayzata received a forwarded - and undeliverable (he couldn't read the original address on the package) - "parcel post" package in the mail.
Writes Nancy: "I contacted the new owner of the house and he told me that he had a 'very beat up package that had a rip in it.' He thought it might contain a hat."
Nancy had the package - which now had been repackaged because of the condition it was in - delivered to her home in Milwaukee via UPS. It contained a cup, an envelope with Dan's sixth-grade work and the Christmas stockings - no hammer, no envelope full of political cartoons.
For whatever reason, the package was undeliverable to Dan in Alaska and was returned, sometime in late December, to the Wayzata house from which it was sent.
Here's Nancy's reasoning for why the hammer and Nixon cartoons were not in the original "very beat up" package:
"The political cartoon envelope falls out of the battered package in some postal facility along the way. The postal workers find said envelope and deliver it to Grandma and Grandpa's house (Angene and Arthur Johnson in Windom) seemingly a bazillion years later . . . And now the story picks up where the (Windom) post office finds the package and tracks down John Onkka."
Nancy says she shared the story with her siblings and they all seem to think her theory is plausible.
While the mystery of the 1966 package apparently has been solved, a very minor mystery still remains: What happened to the hammer?
That's a mystery that the Johnson family likely will never know, nor care to.
The package mystery has been enjoyable for the Johnson family. In closing, Nancy writes that it brought back many wonderful childhood memories, including the Cottonwood County Fair and the "wonderful peaches that Grandma used to have when I came to visit."
Case closed.

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