Clearview — This phone booth is missing Superman.
He’s gone missing. Twice.
Also, it’s missing a phone.
But it gets plenty of junk mail and even gets featured in passers-by’s photos.
What’s up with that?
It’s a phone booth turned mailbox.
For drivers on the popular stretch of 180th Street SE west of Highway 9, the iconic blue-paneled glass booth by the road is a landmark and a photo op.
The homeowners, JoAnn Johnston and Jake Thompson, said using it as a mailbox was a “brainiac idea.”
Thompson, a handyman by trade and a salvage savant, brought home the old phone booth from a job. “It was graffiti-ed up and they wanted it out of there,” he said.
The timing coincided with the couple moving their old mailbox to a better spot. A broken glass panel in the middle of the booth was the perfect opening for mail.
“We said, ‘Let’s just put the mailbox in the phone booth,’” Johnston said.
They made sure their brainiac idea was tempered with the blessing of the mail carrier who delivers the goods in rain, sleet and snow.
“We went out and talked to the mailman and he said, ‘Yeah, as long as I can pull off the road and access it freely, I don’t care what you put it in,’ ” she said.
They added a Superman to give it wham-bam-pow!
Most mailboxes are mundane fixtures, functional without the fun, and that suits most people just fine. I’ve never thought about blinging my boring black rectangle that’s nothing more than a receptacle for ads and bills.
Some, however, like to stand out from the mailbox crowd. An internet search found these shapes: Microwave. Giant hand. Big butt. Sexy pirate lady. Manatee in grass skirt. Lighthouse. Talking fish. Cow. Robot. Toilet. Flying pig.
The phone booth mailbox has stood tall by the road for more than three years.
“People stop all the time to take pictures,” Johnston said. “People position their kids all around it.”
The couple can catch the show from their front window. What they couldn’t catch were the crooks who stole Superman. Even the Man of Steel can’t stop evil, sometimes.
“Both times he was a blowup guy in a costume, but the first time he had a real mannequin head and my daughter dyed his hair black and put sunglasses on him so he looked like Clark Kent,” Johnston said. “He was just kind of hanging out by the phone booth and someone stole him.”
They put Superman 2 in the air.
“We hung him on the pole with the Seahawks flag,” Thompson said. “They climbed up there and ripped the flag to steal Superman. We have it on video, but we couldn’t get a license plate.”
They went to the police. For real. They reported the theft of an inflatable Superman. They even took surveillance video, but it was too blurry to get an ID on the Superman bandits.
Johnston said they want to put a prop phone in the booth. “But we’re afraid someone will steal it,” she said. There is a real phone book. Nobody’s stealing that any time soon.
The phone booth is padlocked to the fence with heavy-duty boat chain.
Johnston, who works in retail, has lived in the house since 1989 and still uses the property for a topsoil business and, in December, to sell Christmas trees.
“We like to find oddities to put in our yard,” she said.
Thompson is always on the lookout (kind of like the ever-vigilant hero Superman) to add to the collection. “If people are going to throw it away I’d rather look at it and see if I can do anything with it first,” he said. “Reuse and repurpose. I hate throwing things away.”
The phone booth fit the bill.
Thompson got the graffiti off with Goof Off. He wired it for lights. The overhead bulb is “an old-school round one, a 22-incher,” he said. Colored Christmas lights add a festive touch.
“At night the lights all glow,” Johnston said, “so we can find our driveway.”
There are plans for the phone booth to get its superhero back. Stay tuned for the appearance of Superman 3. But this time he won’t be so easy to abscond with.
“I will make him out of concrete,” Thompson said.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reporterbrown.