When Caledonia resident Tim Shea opened his mailbox a month ago he was surprised to find a returned piece of mail that he sent on Oct. 5, 2004.

He laughed about it on Facebook saying the person he addressed the letter to probably moved 10 years ago. At the time, postage was only 37 cents.

Shea remembers sending 50 letters out to several parents whose children were in Boy Scouts at the time. But then he received another letter about a week ago with the same postmark, again addressed to another family member whose child was in the Boy Scouts and sent on the same day.

Shea’s friends wondered if his mail carrier had grown tired of the job years ago and someone just happened to have stumbled upon a bag of mail somewhere.

“It’s just a huge joke to us,” Shea said after being asked if he contacted the U.S. Post Office.

But what happened is a mystery for the U.S. Post Office.

“We regret any inconvenience this may have caused the customer,” wrote Leon Van Vooren, of the U.S. Post Office. “Because of the amount of time that has elapsed, it is difficult to know why this may have happened, but we are glad the letters were returned. Again, we apologize for the inconvenience.”

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.