Postcards from Italy delivered to Alaska after 26-year delay

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ANCHORAGE - After a 26-year delay, the postcards Olga Jigliotti mailed from Italy to her son in East Anchorage are getting a sweet - almost bittersweet - postscript.

James Jigliotti was 29 and living on Skilak Circle when his mom and dad made what another family member called "a trip of a lifetime" to Rome.

Now he's 54, living in Atlanta, and ready to give the post office another chance with two postcards that probably will be treasured more now than if they'd been delivered on time back in March 1982.

Teresa Childs, the current occupant of the Skilak Circle house who received the two postcards over a three-day span earlier this month, spoke to Jigliotti on Saturday -- two days after an Anchorage Daily News story reported the late delivery. Jigliotti gave Childs his current address, and the postcards soon will be back in the mail.

"You can never have enough of that stuff," Jigliotti said Sunday from Atlanta. "It trickles away, more or less."

Back in 1982, Jigliotti might have kept the postcards for a while and then tossed them. Now, he'll cherish them.

His mom, Olga, died on March 22, 2007. His dad, John, died one year and one day later.

The couple was married for 60 years, and in 1982 they traveled to Italy -- the homeland of John's immigrant parents -- to get their wedding vows renewed.

On one of the errant postcards, Olga wrote eagerly about a planned visit to the Pope, during which the couple received a special blessing. A photo was snapped as Pope John Paul II placed his hands over Olga's head - and today, that framed photo hangs in James Jigliotti's home in Georgia.

"It's almost like something from beyond the grave," Jigliotti said. "It just blows my mind. My mom was a very spiritual person. That it was mailed from the Vatican and that my mom just died ... what is this all about?"

Childs - who had a phone message from Jigliotti when she came home from work Friday, the day the story appeared - is happy the postcards are getting such a satisfying P.S.

"I'm just tickled. I really didn't think I would find these people," she said.

Childs searched for Jigliotti on the Internet and found a phone number in Georgia, but it had been disconnected. The neighbors she quizzed either didn't know or didn't remember anything, including the names of any of the other Jigliottis.

When a story about the mysterious postcards appeared in the newspaper, all kinds of clues came pouring in.

People who went to high school and junior high with James called. People whose kids were taught by his sister, Alpenglow Elementary teacher Joey Jigliotti, e-mailed. People who found a gallery of family photos online posted links on the newspaper's Web site.

A stamp collector provided the name of a Web site that might shed light on delayed mail from Italy. A priest from a Catholic Church wondered if Olga had been one of about 300 Anchorage choir members who also visited Rome in 1982 and sang at St. Peter's Cathedral on March 7, two days before Olga mailed one of the postcards.

Jigliotti said he's not worried about the postcards going back into the mail.

"Maybe it'll take 26 years for them to get here," he said. "We'll see what happens next."

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