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Marine Park woman receives letters after 45 years

SEALED WITH A KISS: Susan’s mom laid one on the envelope before dropping it the mailbox almost 45 years ago.
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Talk about special delivery!

A Marine Park woman got a surreal surprise when letters postmarked in 1969 finally arrived in the mail last week.

“I’m freaking out,” said Susan Heifetz.

On April 3, Heifetz got a call from a man living in the Homecrest apartment where she was born and raised, and the man said that a letter had just been delivered for her that was dated June 26, 1969.

Suspicious, she asked him to describe the envelope, and what he told her made her jaw drop.

“He said on the back there was a lipstick mark — and that’s something my mother did with letters — seal it with a kiss,” Heifetz said.

She met the man at her childhood home and picked up the letter — a birthday card her parents dropped in the mail the day before her 19th birthday in 1969.

“We all kept saying ‘where has this letter been for the last 45 years?’ ” she said.

A post office spokeswoman said the letter could not have been floating around the postal system for 45 years, and that most likely someone had somehow acquired the letter years ago, and just recently put it back in the mail.

“What we typically find is that old letters and postcards — sometimes purchased at flea markets, antique shops and even online — are re-entered into our system,” said post office spokeswoman Congetta Chirichello.

But Chirichello could not explain how the letter could have been postmarked in 1969 and then go missing.

Adding to the mystery, in the days since Heifetz received the first letter, two more missing missives have surfaced.

One is from a Sgt. Mark L. Wolf, whom Heifetz dated briefly in 1969, before he was shipped of to war. He sent the letter in October, 1969 while stationed in Vietnam. In a spooky twist, the letter starts with, “Don’t remember me? Let me remind you.”

The same good samaritans who received her birthday card found Wolf’s letter in their mailbox on Friday and passed it along to her.

The third late letter was hand-delivered on Saturday by the manager of the local Homecrest post office, Don Chen. It was another 1969 birthday card, from her brother.

Chen said the first two letters came to his office from a mostly automated postal sorting facility in East New York where they are pre-bundled for mail carriers. The third appeared in a bin for mail collected locally or which has been damaged and could have passed through the facility or come from the neighborhood, Chen said.

He said markings left from the sorting facility could reveal the general area they re-entered the mail stream, but tracing them back to their origin would be nearly impossible.

The chances of one letter resurfacing after this long are one-in-a-trillion, according to Chen — let alone three. How the letters finally made it back into the mail stream is a mystery, he said.

“There’s millions of scenarios of what could have happened over the last 40-something years,” Chen said.

Heifetz said she’s just glad to have gotten the long-lost letters after all this time.

Receiving the birthday card from her parents right now held particular significance for her. She recently retired from her civilian job with the police department, and put her house up for sale. She has been preparing to move to Las Vegas to live near the rest of her family, but the prospect of leaving her East Coast roots was weighing on her emotionally.

“I kept thinking, ‘who’s going to visit our parents at the cemetery?’ ” she said.

The timely arrival of her mother’s 45-year-late birthday card has given her some peace of mind.

“With all that I’ve been going through, I take this as a sign that my parents will find me no matter where I am,” she said. “This, to me, was the closure I needed.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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