Hinesburg, Vermont — Deep inside Geprags Park in Hinesburg, Vermont, there’s a mystery. Back in 2011, someone walked way out here under the cover of night and installed a mailbox, leaving no explanation aside from that three-letter clue: D-A-D.
“After keeping it secret for so many years, I knew that somebody would find out about it and want to share it with others – and I think now is a great time to share it,” said Barry Lampke.
Barry put it there because he has always been a letter writer, and his favorite pen pal was always his father, George.
“That was my way to connect with him. And so when he passed away, about a year later I realized that that piece of our relationship was missing. And so that’s when I decided to find a way to continue that connection,” Barry said.
Until recently when the Seven Days VT wrote about the mailbox, no one knew how it got there, but many have stumbled upon it, peeked inside and made it their connection, too. Strangers now leave blank journals for others to write, in and now there are hundreds of messages to dads gone by.
Some of the messages include: “You showed me how kind and gentle a truly strong man is.” “How challenging it is sometimes to keep you a part of my life when the living are so needy.” “I often wish I could see you, but I don’t miss you because your spirit glides by so often.”
And of course, the most recent entry: “Daddy-o, for so long it was our private conversation, but so many people have found this to be a place of love, appreciation, and healing. As we struggle to survive this pandemic and heal the wounds that we have created as a country, your gift will be a place where we can all come together to connect with our dads and share their stories. Love, forever and a day, Barry.”
And with that, the portal closes yet again — ready for the next grateful child to come along.