What’s in the News

Letter writing may be on the wane, but each week, stories turn up from around the globe on letter writing, the postal service, handwriting and other related topics, both as features and as news stories. Here is a sampling of what's in the news, published in September and October 2014. Amazon Fresh Orders Soon to Arrive from the Post Office A market test in San Francisco, approved by the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, would allow the USPS to deliver groceries from AmazonFresh to individual households between the hours of 3 a.m. – 7 a.m., effective in…

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War Letters: Kayla Williams

Letters written and received far from home during wartime have special meaning for people who serve in the armed forces. From the letters on display at the Smithsonian’s Post Office Museum in Washington, D.C., dating from the American Revolution to 2010, to the iconic Sullivan Ballou letter written during the Civil War, featured in the Ken Burns film, The Civil War, produced by PBS, the impact of such letters and their personal and historical significance cannot be overestimated. Kayla Williams is of a new generation of women soldiers, who now make up 15 percent of today’s…

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Lunchbox Notes

Here is a tip for parents. When you pack a lunch for your son or daughter, write a little note on the napkin, to remind your children of how much they mean to you. It is a simple, ephemeral, yet effective form of communication that can create lasting memories. Nancy in Honolulu raised five daughters, and while the girls were growing up, she worked for a foundation that required travel, sometimes to the mainland, and at other times, to international destinations. Days before each trip, she stayed up late at night, writing and sometimes illustrating notes…

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Philatelists Oppose Pop Culture Stamps

Philatelists are not happy with the trend toward stamps that feature pop culture and music icons, such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix and now, Janis Joplin. Nor do they favor movie stars or cartoon characters, such as Bugs Bunny, or the Simpsons, the stamps issued in 2012 that resulted in a revenue loss of $1.2 million for the U.S. Postal Service. This may be shortsighted on the part of traditional stamp collectors. Apparently these new stamps not only sell well, but for the most part, also help to develop new generations of stamp collectors.…

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Stories of the Week

Letter writing may be on the wane, but each week, stories turn up from around the globe on letter writing, the postal service, handwriting and other related topics, both as features and as news stories. Here is a sampling of such stories published Aug. 24 - Sept. 6. Postal Service's big delivery edge: no parking tickets. SFGate.com, Sept. 6, 2014. FedEx and UPS are unhappy at the U.S. Postal Service plan to slash prices during the holidays. The postal service already has an advantage, say the competitors: they don’t have to pay parking tickets. Illegal parking…

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Wanted: War Letters

  Dear Readers, This is to ask for your help and contributions to an upcoming post. Do you have in your possession any treasured letters written during a war by a friend or family member in the armed services that you would like to share, either in excerpts or in total? It could have been written during the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, or during a war in the past: Korean War, Vietnam, World War I or II, Civil War, Revolutionary War or other. Please share only correspondence that you are willing to share with other readers…

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How To Save a Post Office

  The people of Berkeley, across the Bay from San Francisco, know how to put up a good fight. Their most recent battle is to save their historic post office building from being sold by the United States Postal Service. Berkeley, as is often the case, is going against the grain. Post office buildings and postal sorting centers around the country have been consolidated, sold, leased and downsized as the U.S. Postal Service struggles with monumental debt. Different jurisdictions react to these sales in different ways. Palo Alto, another Bay Area city, made an offer to…

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Indiscreet Letters

This has not been a good week for the legacy of Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the U.S., 1921 –1923. Harding’s failures as President have been extensively documented. His short-lived administration was rocked by corruption and scandal overshadowed his accomplishments, resulting in his rankings being consistently the lowest of all of the U.S. Presidents. And now his indiscreet letters have been revealed. The Library of Congress has unsealed his previously unpublished letters to his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, the wife of one of his close friends. The letters, mostly written prior to his Presidency, are…

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The Telegram

, More than thirty years before Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone, Samuel Morse found a way to transit messages through electrical pulses across a series of wires. It was 1841, and communication by Morse code became the foundation for the telegram system, and later was adapted for radio communications. Throughout history, telegrams have played an important role. President Abraham Lincoln used telegrams to communicate with his Generals during the Civil War. According to George Mason University’s History News Network, “When Lincoln arrived for his inauguration in 1861 there was not even a telegraph line to…

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Gratitude: The Art of the Thank You Note

Despite the accelerating demise of the personal, handwritten letter, the art of bread and butter letters and thank you notes appears to have continuing life. Expressing gratitude sometimes can be difficult, but even a brief note of thanks is always welcome, and one of the most meaningful and important communications we undertake. While social usage evolves over time, good manners are timeless. In Your Best Foot Forward: Social Usage for Young Moderns (McGraw Hill Book Company, Inc., c. 1940) by Dorothy Stratton and Helen B. Schleman, the authors advise that “You are expected to write a…

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