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HAVING A GREAT TIME, WISH YOU WERE HERE - BUT WHERE WAS POSTCARD FOR 31 YEARS?

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Many of us have wait-ed - and waited - for a card or letter to arrive, only to be fended off with the cliche, "It's in the mail." But don't give up; it just may be.

In summer 1958, when Mary Garrison and her husband moved to Utah, they took a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Mary's sister, Leah Kerby. While at Old Faithful, Mary Garrison sent a postcard to her parents in Columbus, Miss.It was nothing fancy, just a photograph of the famous geyser, with a "having a wonderful time, wish you were here" sentiment written on it.

A few weeks ago, Kerby, who still lives in Mississippi, stopped by the post office to pick up the mail. Something caught her eye.

It was an old postcard, showing a picture of a spouting geyser. Turning it over, she recognized her sister Mary's writing, something about a wonderful weekend at Yellowstone. She next noticed a 2-cent Thomas Jefferson stamp and the circular postmarks.

One was dated June 2, 1989, in Columbus. The other: "Yellowstone Park, Wyo. Jul 14 8:30 AM 1958."

She called her sister in South Ogden.

"Leah said, `I just came from the post office and received a postcard from you,' " said Garrison. "I said, `Where in the world? I didn't send you a postcard.' She said, `Yes you did, in 1958.' "

It took 31 years, but Mary Garrison's postcard was finally delivered.

Garrison was understandably amazed.

"We don't know where it's been. Nobody knows," she said. "It's just unreal."

Not that there aren't plenty of theories.

Checks with the postmasters at Yellowstone and Columbus, Miss., turned up no clues as to where the postcard has been for the past three decades, or even where it was finally discovered.

Jim Sherman, postmaster of Yellowstone Post Office at Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo., said he doubts the letter had spent all those years lost in Yellowstone because all the postal buildings have been torn down and replaced since 1958.

Perhaps, he said, it stuck to an other piece of mail and went to another address.

Columbus Postmaster Roy Smith said he has "no earthly idea" where the postcard could have been. The only other similar case he's heard of is a letter that wound up hidden under a radiator for several years. It wasn't discovered until the post office was moved to another location.

"How things like that happen are a mystery," Sperry said. "But we apologize if it was our fault."