May 3, 2023
Don Powell of Orchard Lake Village, Michigan, was sliding the usual assortment of envelopes out of the mailbox in front of of his home when he noticed something out of the ordinary, reports The Washington Post.
A tiny doll couple was sitting on a love seat inside the mailbox. A small sticky note was also tucked inside. “We’ve decided to live here,” the message read. It was signed, “From Mary and Shelley.”
Powell, 72, said he initially figured that somebody must have left the wooden dolls inside his mailbox last August by mistake. He and his wife, Nancy Powell, had a custom-designed mailbox installed about four years ago to resemble their contemporary white house.
“We could understand why dolls would want to move into such a nice mailbox, but we were still perplexed,” Don Powell said, adding that he laughed when he took a closer look at Mary and Shelley because “as dolls go, they are extremely unattractive.”
Powell said he considered tossing the couple and their sofa into the trash can, but then he had second thoughts. “I asked the neighbors whether anybody had left dolls in their mailboxes, and everyone told me no,” he said. “So I thought, ‘This must just be a joke, and whoever left them here will come back to get them.’ I moved them to the back of the mailbox to see what would happen.”
A few days passed and nobody retrieved the dolls, he said, noting that he and his wife soon discovered that the small couple had acquired an end table, a throw rug and a pillow.
“I also have a sense of humor, so I left a note of my own, saying that what the home really needed was a refrigerator stocked with food,” he said.
The fridge was never delivered. But over the next several months, additional items mysteriously sho
wed up: a four-poster bed, a painting and a wood-burning stove, to name a few.
More than eight months later, Mary and Shelley are still living rent-free in the mailbox, to the delight of neighbors who now follow updates by Don Powell on Orchard Lake Village’s Nextdoor page.
Powell first posted about the tiny squatters on August 21, hoping that someone might help solve the mystery about why the dolls had suddenly appeared inside the mailbox, 30 yards from his front porch.
“A homeless couple has taken up residence inside our mailbox,” he wrote on Nextdoor. “I have included photos of what it all looks like, so you don’t think I’m making any of this up.”
“Some people initially thought that I had planted the dolls myself, but that is definitely not the case,” Powell said. “All I did was provide a mailbox. Somebody else decided to make it into a home for Mary and Shelley.”
Nancy Powell said she can vouch for her husband. “Our two sons even wondered if he was doing it, but it was honestly a surprise to us,” she said. “Don is the kind of person, though, to play along with it. It’s some ‘feel good’ fun that we all need now in this crazy world.”
Although a person can be fined up to $5,000 for putting items without postage inside somebody else’s mailbox, Powell said he could not imagine alerting the authorities and evicting the dolls.
“I asked our mail carrier if there would be a problem delivering our mail with the dolls in there, and he told me no—there was plenty of room,” he said. “He also said he got a kick out of seeing what was going on inside my mailbox.”
“People in the neighborhood are enjoying it and stop by sometimes to ask questions,” he said. “They want to know what we’re charging for rent and who mows the lawn. Some people ask if I’ve thought about installing an outdoor camera, but personally, I like the mystery of it.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost