- Associated Press - Sunday, May 18, 2014

CORTEZ, Fla. (AP) - A few times a week 88-year-old Mary Green hops in her 2005 Honda and drives three blocks to the post office. She has to. There is no mail delivery to her home.

In fact, no one in the historic fishing village of Cortez - population of roughly 4,000 - receives home mail delivery or has a mail box.

“We like it that way,” Green said.

United States Post Office, Cortez, Florida, 34215, is usually a busy place most mornings. Residents walk or take their cars or ride their golf carts to pick up their mail.

The mail is kept locked up in one of 1,318 small post office boxes residents can access with a key. Until the mid-1990s, the mailboxes had combination locks on them.

It is not unusual for small towns in Florida not to receive home mail delivery, but it is not commonplace either.

Residents say they like it this way for several reasons: it is a way to meet socially, get exercise, check the neighborhood message board on the side the building and retain part of the village’s rich history.

They also don’t want home mailboxes for safety reasons.

“I’ve heard lots of stories and seen people lose checks in mailboxes,” resident Richard Culbreath said. “When you raise that red flag, that’s a telltale sign and people will come in.

“We’ve never had any mailboxes. Whenever there is any talk about bringing them in we always say we don’t want them.”

Culbreath is 80 and walks about a mile most days to the post office on Cortez Road.

“It’s about all I can do,” he said. “Back’s been kind of bothering me lately.”

The post office is in a small strip mall next to a barbershop, restaurant and laundry. Some residents, like former Postmaster Wyman Coarsey, walk up for coffee at the restaurant and then check their mail.

“Sometimes I see people here I wouldn’t see otherwise, so it’s kind of a social thing,” resident Atlas Kight said.

She moved to Cortez in 1961 and believes the current post office has been at its present site since 1960. She worked at the Cortez post office for many years, retiring in 1989.

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