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Jesse Butterbaugh needed a new mailbox, and he needed one quickly.
His wife, JoAnne, was persistent in telling her husband the mailbox needed to be fixed.
So Jesse fixed it up the only way he knew how.
He transformed his antiquated post-in-the-ground mailbox into what now resembles a power line.
“I worked on the power lines my whole life as an equipment operator,” Butterbaugh said. “I was working on a construction project several years ago in Illinois and I came across a mailbox like this one, and I told myself I had to have one of those some day.”
Butterbaugh, whose dad was a lineman in Pennsylvania for many years, received help from his brother, who also followed in the long line of Butterbaugh electricians.
“My brother had most of the materials I needed to build my mailbox,” Butterbaugh said. “We got the insulators from Brunswick Electric, but other than that, my brother gave me everything.”
“It didn’t take him too long to get it up,” JoAnne said. “He really surprised me.”
When asked if the lights on the mailbox were functional, Butterbaugh paused.
“No — well, not yet at least,” he said with a laugh.
Butterbaugh said the fuse was strong enough to provide lighting, but too much could go wrong for him to make the mailbox functional.
As for the reviews he’s received from neighbors and fellow community members, they love it.
“Our mailwoman, Wendy, she loves it. She can’t get enough of it,” he said.
“They all just rave about it,” JoAnne added, smiling as she leaned from her seat in the dining room to peek out the window at it.
Butterbaugh said men from Brunswick Electric were in his neighborhood working one day and noticed the new mailbox. He said they all but stopped what they were doing to come look at it.
“All of them were out there taking pictures of it,” he said. “They told me after they saw mine, every lineman in the county would have a mailbox just like it.”
Butterbaugh said one of his family members bought a John Deere tractor mailbox several years ago, but “it was made of plastic and it’s nothing like this one.”
The “Man with the Mailbox” has been a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 126 for more than 40 years.
He said most of his work was subcontract work through the years.
“We referred to the Weather Channel as the ‘Money Station,’” he said. “We knew any time a big storm hit, we’d be called on for work. It was terrible for the people whose lives were affected, but it was good for us because we got work.
“I never really worked for the same company or worked on the same jobs for a great length of time,” he said. “One week we’d be in New Jersey, the next week New Mexico, the next week Rhode Island, the next week back in Pennsylvania. It was a rough lifestyle, but we got used to it. You get used to living out of suitcase. How about that?”
Fortunately, JoAnne said, he had the job as a lineman when the couple met, so there wasn’t much of an acclimation process upon marriage.
“I knew what I was getting into,” JoAnne said. “I went with him most of the time, but when I didn’t, it was good for him because when he got home there was nothing for him to do. The yardwork was done, the house was clean, everything.”
The Butterbaughs spent their adult lives in the Pennsylvania area, but bought a place in Supply as a second home.
“My mother is originally from Varnamtown, so I have still have plenty of family here. I have an aunt, an uncle and several cousins that still live here,” Butterbaugh said.
Butterbaugh, who is now retired with his wife of 43 years, said he spends a lot of his free time in his garage or down on the river.
“I’ll tinker around with things outside, go hang out at the docks. And some times, I’ll even go shrimping for a day or two when I don’t have anything to do,” he said.
When asked if he missed anything about the power line business, Butterbaugh smiled before answering:
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.