Thursday, September 17, 2009

One of my main jobs in retirement is to pick up the mail at the post office. We have a post office box because the mail carrier will not deliver to a box on our side of the street. Our box would have to be in our neighbors yard and we respect them too much to trash their property. We also prefer the post office because there is less chance for someone pilfering through our mail or some teenager knocking our home mailbox down for the fun.

The mailbox is usually full, but it contains nothing but advertisements, catalogs and bills. There is rarely a letter. No one writes a letter anymore. Communication is by short statements on e-mail or facebook. About the only personal correspondence is a wedding or graduation invitation. Even thank you notes are rare.

When I was a kid, during the war (WWII), one of my main jobs was to go to the post office. We had a box at that time and it was on the top row. I could barely reach the box to insert the key. I would jump to get a good look and make sure I had emptied the box. I loved that job because we were always looking for a letter from my brother or brother-in-law who were in the army. My parents and sister also loved to mail letters and pack boxes full of goodies for mailing.

Letters were the common mode of communication when I was a kid. Telephones were only used for emergencies like death notification. We simply didn’t call long distance unless it was an emergency. Letters were written by hand using real ink from a fountain pen. Ballpoints had not been invented. Letters for airmail were written on tissue thin paper to reduce the weight. Those letter weighed about as much as a couple of feathers. We could mail a regular letter for 3 cents, airmail was 6 cents and penny postcards were popular. Letter writing was fun.

When I visited my aunt and uncle in the country they received no mail except for personal letters. They had no electricity, running water, sewage disposal, garbage collecton, natural gas or any utility. They never had a utility bill. Credit cards had not been invented, so there was nothing from Master Card etc. They had no insurance of any kind, therefore, no insurance bills. Advertising through the mail didn’t exist so there were no catalogues and all the junk we get today. Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogues were picked up at the catalogue store.

I have been reading the correspondence between Adams and Jefferson. These were beautifully written letters, almost like poetry on very deep subjects like religion and philosophy. How I wish that my mailbox today could be like that of my aunt and uncle or Jefferson and Adams. It would be great to go to the post office and receive well-written letters from friends. That would make great reading for the porch. E-mail and facebook just aren’t the same. It would also be great if a letter still cost 3 cents and all the junk stuff would stop. It’s another part of the world that is Gone With the Wind.

I will just have to be satisfied with facebook, which is a pretty nifty thing. The problem is that most of my friends are too old to learn how to use it. Oh well, they probably couldn’t write a decent letter anyway. I am proud to add, that a few of my high school friends still send me beautifully written letters. Our high school English teacher would be very proud.


Blogger jeff ludwick said...

This blog has made me very sad for a couple of reasons. My grandmother was the postmaster in the small community where I was raised. The "post office" was a small corner of my grandparents' general store and she put up the mail each day in small "pigeon holes" for the people to come by and pick up. She would let me help sort and place the mail and it was a great treat. I miss that and also miss the letters to and from that you so fondly remember.

I am also sad because I haven't taken the time to write YOU a letter. At least a couple of times a week I take the time to send correspondence back to credit card companies, insurance companies, etc. I never actually BUY anything I just send their envelopes back to them and tell them "hi" and give them important information about me that I think they should know. Things like I am a Baptist, that I eat red meat, love the History Channel, belong to the NRA, etc. etc. I feel like if they have to take the time to open their pre-addressed envelope that they should get to find out something about me......

11:27 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

But...the new technology is great. Your blogs are something I look forward to reading everyday and looking at the comments everyone writes are some of the highlights of my day. You all have to admit this didn't exist a few years ago and is a great way to communicate! Keep those Blogs coming and comments coming. I certainly enjoy them.

12:11 PM  

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