Post Office Blues

There’s a lot of talk about post offices closing, consolidating, and cutting hours. There’s talk about eliminating Saturday delivery. 

The US Postal Service is nearly broke.

I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising.  How many of us write letters anymore? Yet, when I see the mail truck at the head of my street, I have a feeling of expectation that there might be a letter for me.   (my empty mailbox)

I love personal letters, postcards, thank you notes, and paper invitations. I don’t care for e-vites and e-cards; they get dragged to my desktop trash bucket quicker than the junk mail gets tossed into the recycling bin.

The news that the financially beleaguered US Postal Service plans to close nearly 4,000 offices, mostly in rural areas, and reduce services invoked a wave of nostalgia.

Growing up, I wrote letters.  When I was 8, I had a pen pal from Wales.  We met 18 years later when she came to my wedding and we still correspond, alas, now by email.

I loved stationery and bought sealing wax of animals and my initials.  I loved dripping the gobs of colorful hot wax onto the back of my letters.

I wrote thank you notes, hounded by my mother to do so. In turn, I instilled this in my children.

I wrote from camp, when traveling, from college. I saved letters and postcards I received. I now cherish seeing my grandparents’ handwriting and reading my parents’ letters from their world travels.

Signs of the postal service’s demise are already evident.  A few years ago, I gave my son a stack of letters and bills to drop into the mailbox at the end of the street as he walked the dog. He returned letters in hand; the box that had been there the day before had vanished. 

And like analog watches, younger generations aren’t accustomed to mail.  From college acceptances, to invitations, to announcements of sales from their favorite stores, everything is electronic. They are constantly connected to their wide world of friends.

I cling to tradition and enjoy writing letters and sending small packages to my daughter at college; but I have to send her an email or text so she’ll go to the post office. 

What about stamp collecting?  How will the curbing of the Postal Service impact this popular hobby? My mother’s uncle collected stamps. When he died, we received a carton of overstuffed albums, the pages yellowed with age, the stamps falling out. We examined their dates, designs, and prices, fascinated and amazed. 

I still love stationery; a trip to a museum isn’t complete without a gift shop visit to buy another box of art note cards.  I buy commemorative stamps; insisting on seeing everything on offer, then selecting several.  

Do the people who open the few bills I don’t pay on line appreciate the decorative stamps?

Check out http://savethepostoffice.com/- one man’s campaign to save his local post office and others.   To save yours,  contact your Congressperson.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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11 Responses to Post Office Blues

  1. Stella Sormani says:

    Nice post. I also really like the new blog photo up top!

    Like

  2. Madeline Taylor says:

    I also love the new photo.
    Needless to say, this post certainly spoke to me directly. I too am a huge fan of the written word and a great collector and creator of the tools on which to write. I love the fact that paper stores still exist although I cannot imagine how as you and I are the only ones that frequent them. A Paper Source opened up a year or so ago in Bethesda -anytime we go there to eat (several times a week) my feet must walk in. I may or may not make a purchase but I breathe in the inventory – the shapes, the colors – almost as good as seeing the Jelly Belly and M&M bins at Dylan’s Candy Bar. My sister-in-law, Kathy doesn’t understand my love of stationary (older than me, yet, she has embraced the electronic age with ease). However, she induldges my passion. She is always keeping an eye out for paper places in the quaintest corners of the world and often texts me pictures of what she finds!
    When the Facebook phase started and I got all these ‘friend requests’ – I was non-plussed and perterbed. Who are you kidding? I’m the best friend you could ever have – I write, I call, I send Birthday cards with Olympic vigor – and even a package now and then. How much MORE of a friend do I have to be?
    Speaking of packages – this is my personal way of keeping both the recession at bay and the U.S. Postal Service in business. I am constantly sending packages to my adult nieces and nephews whom are either away at college or off toiling for their keep. Brownies, cookies, life’s necessities and yes, even stationary. They FB, or text or e-mail to say that the baked goods arrived and were all the rage with their roommates and what of the stationary? I’m sure it’s steadying a wobbly desk in many a dorm room from Massachussetts to Ohio!

    Like

  3. Madeline Taylor says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention – Every summer, I hand write to every single one of my students from the year. I have been doing htis for almost all of my 26 years of teaching. There are a handful of students whom I still have a sporadic correspondance with – Christmas cards, notices of their child’s births, communions and/or other religious rites. They all have e-mail, twitter, facebook and a myriad of other electronic link-ups that I have no idea what to do with, still, they humor their old teacher and write a letter!

    Like

  4. Great comment. You’re a terrific teacher that your students will always remember.

    Like

  5. Leah says:

    This is a great post. I think about this often as I still have a feeling of anticipation anytime I see the mail truck as well. I always hold out hope there’s something there for me. In fact, you just inspired a blog post about what mail has meant to me — thanks!

    Like

  6. Barbara W. Klein says:

    Thanks for the pictures of J. and S. ( sounds like a local department store) at the local swimming hole. Looks great. Easy place to just sit and immerse one’s self in the water. Loved your piece on the post office and the joy of receiving mail. One more cultural nicety almost “Gone with the Wind” Electronic mail is so impersonal. Your loving mom.

    Like

  7. Thanks mom. Yes but I still send hand written thank you notes, though my handwriting often makes the recipients wish I’d sent an email.

    Like

  8. Pingback: Thank You Note Thanks | cyclingrandma

  9. Pingback: Letters to Camp | cyclingrandma

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