The brown box handed to him by his mail carrier on Oct. 9 was addressed to Gayer’s Saddlery, the company where he’d worked in the 1970s in Laurel, Md., then purchased in 1995.
But what really made him do a double-take was the $3 postage and the postmark on the front: Aug. 22, 1979.
“I couldn’t believe it — it only took the post office 41 years to deliver it,” said Sargent, 61, who renamed the leather repair shop Outback Leather when he bought out the previous owner.
The U.S. Postal Service says deliveries that take decades to complete are rare.
“In many cases, old letters, postcards and other items delivered years ago are dropped into the mail stream by customers who discover or purchase them in hopes that the Postal Service can reconnect the items with their original senders, recipients or family members,” said Michael Hotovy, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.
“Saddles, boots, chaps — we repair them from all over, but getting an order 41 years late is a first,” said Sargent.
“I suppose that now would be a good time to say, ‘Better late than never.’ ”