What’s New at the Post Office
John Lennon stamp will be releases on Sept. 7

What’s New at the Post Office

Services, facilities and politics are evolving at the USPS.  So, what’s new at the post office? One service I tried out this year and have found very helpful is Informed Delivery.  Launched in the spring of 2017, Informed Delivery provides the postal customer with a daily email, which includes photocopies of the letter sized pieces to be delivered in that day’s mail, as well as notification of anticipated packages. Given the massive quantities of junk mail that the average customer receives, this service is valuable in anticipating important letters and documents. If you haven’t yet signed…

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Post Office Boxes by Kay Roberts
Post Office boxes, Calistoga, CA

Post Office Boxes by Kay Roberts

On a recent little vacation in Calistoga, I realized I would miss a friend’s major birthday if I didn’t find and mail her a card.  So I got myself out of a steaming pool and over to the post office.  I go to Calistoga for those steaming pools at least twice a year, but I never had occasion before to visit the post office, and when I saw the rows of beautiful old post office boxes, I became (excessively, says my husband) nostalgic. What memories of growing up in the 1940s and 50s in Cumberland, Wisconsin…

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Holiday Greetings

As another year draws to conclusion, it is time once again to extend sincere holiday greetings to friends and family, near and far. This, of course, includes the readers of Social Correspondence! Thank you for allowing me into your lives over this past year.  For those of you who have shared comments, subjected yourselves to interviews, or contributed guest columns, special thanks! Our mailbox has been filled daily for the past couple of months. First, there was that annual slew of holiday catalogs, offering tantalizing glimpses of everything from flannel pajamas to expensive electronic equipment. Despite…

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Heroic Postal Carriers

Modern day heroes, including heroic postal carriers, have a way of emerging during catastrophic times. Ordinary men and women, going about the daily business of life and work, step up to the plate to perform heroic acts during the most trying of events. This fall has presented many life changing challenges, as well as opportunities for such heroism. Hurricanes and floods battered and inundated Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and beyond. Earthquakes in central and southern Mexico shattered buildings and lives. Closer to home, in the San Francisco Bay Area, wildfires are…

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Royal Mail Delivers Your Letters – and Packages, Too!
Letterbox pillar, St. Ives

Royal Mail Delivers Your Letters – and Packages, Too!

My recent visit to the United Kingdom would not have been complete without checking out the Royal Mail. Picturesque letterboxes led me to believe that a sweet, old-fashioned post office would be just around the corner, but that turned out not to be the case. The post office in St. Ives (Cambridgeshire) is co-located in the back of WHSmith, which is, in this location, a news and sundry store. One can purchase any one of three daily newspapers, a bottle of water, an umbrella, a Cadbury’s (now owned by Hershey) chocolate bar and various other snacks…

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A Trip to the National Postal Museum
Historic postal rail car, National Postal Museum

A Trip to the National Postal Museum

A recent trip to Washington D.C. provided me with the opportunity to revisit the National Postal Museum.   One of the Smithsonian’s treasured institutions, the National Postal Museum, conveniently located next to Union Station, is free and open daily to the public. It is a treasure for children and families, philatelists, and anyone who is interested in U.S. history and the role of the post office in the development of the country. It is through the National Postal Museum that I learned the story of Owney, the scruffy dog from Albany, New York who became infatuated with…

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Cherish Your Valentines
Window display Patrick and Company February 2017

Cherish Your Valentines

Love is in bloom again as we approach Valentine’s Day.  Paper hearts and romantic cards are flourishing in all manner of stores - card shops, stationery stores, office supply, grocery, art, and drug stores; wherever, in fact, greeting cards are sold. So, get out your valentines, heart stamps and red pens and be ready to write some notes and lick some envelopes. Many people consider Valentine’s Day a modern day plot by card-makers, card shops, and other retailers to make more money. The cynics rue yet another symbol of commercialization. But a store-bought card is not…

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Magical Mailboxes

It’s here again already - National Letter Writing Day is Sunday, Oct. 9. And what a pleasure it is when a real letter arrives in the mailbox. A letter separate and distinct from the usual junk mail that flows through the mail stream, which is now exponentially increased by the proliferation of election-related ads and flyers. Decades past, if one had a mailbox at the post office, the front of the box might have been made of glass, especially if the post office was very old. These mailboxes often included a combination lock, though usually a…

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Letters from Wisconsin

Kay Christensen Roberts and her sister Jane grew up in Cumberland, Wisconsin, a rural town with a population of slightly over 2,000, then and now. Growing up in Cumberland in the 1950s, Kay became a devotee of the public library and especially of the town librarian, Katherine Robinson, who may have been her namesake. Katherine the librarian and Kay’s mother Aleda Christensen were good friends. The Christensens lived fairly near to Katherine’s mother and, as Kay recalls, “when I was very little I would toddle up to Engesether’s, where I think I spent as much time as…

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Mailbox Magic
Mailboxes, Sausalito, CA Photo by Tibby Storey

Mailbox Magic

The magic of a mailbox is not necessarily what it looks like, but what it contains. That special envelope, perhaps a baby announcement, a love letter, an official job offer, or even a much-needed tax refund check, are all pieces of mail that can brighten one’s day. When I left home for the first (and last) time at the age of 17 to attend the University of California, Berkeley, a mere ten miles from my home town of Lafayette, California, it was a given that surprise in-person visits from family were not allowed. This was my…

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