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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Jury Service: A Social Contract

Each of us, as a member of a democratic society, is party to a social contract that requires us to respond to a summons to court to serve on a jury. Recently, I served as a juror in a criminal case that was tried in San Francisco. There are many levels of communication in a jury trial. When called upon as a potential juror, the first correspondence one receives is the summons, which is sent by U.S. Mail. A jury summons in San Francisco may come as a result of holding a California State Driver’s License,…

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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 The Library of Congress has unsealed his previously unpublished letters to his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, the wife of one of his close friends.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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Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing

Books to Read Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Nina Sankovitch When Nina Sankovitch and her husband went house hunting “years ago,” they find a run-down house on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, built in 1888, but unoccupied for the past15 years. The house includes some old, dusty furniture, rotting floors and obsolete plumbing and electrical systems, but somehow, it is just right for them. Despite escalating real estate values, their offer is accepted, despite better offers that come in after their bid. Thus begins the saga of Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing (not…

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Letters We Love to Receive

In the words of the great P.D. James, 93-year old doyenne of English crime fiction, “No literary form is more revealing, more spontaneous or more individual than a letter.” But what distinguishes some letters from others, those letters that are pure pleasure to read, opened with eager anticipation? The letters that are read many times over, and then saved, in a drawer or file, box or basket? To some extent, the answer lies with the recipient’s relationship with the sender. Letters from a spouse, child, beloved aunt, cousin, grandmother, lover, close friend, are surely the ones…

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Old Post Office Tower and Complex

Along Pennsylvania Avenue, not far from the White House, there is a landmark, a federally protected building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Post Office Tower and complex, constructed between 1892 and 1899, boasts unparalleled, panoramic views of the nation’s capital. According to the National Park Service (NPS) on a clear day, visibility may exceed 12 miles. This magnificent structure, owned and managed by the General Services Administration (GSA) in cooperation with the National Park Service, most recently was home to an eclectic assortment of government offices, including the National Endowment for…

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Letters

From Rob, New York City - Marcia, two aspects related to your blog come to mind: one is the issue of technology transforming necessities to luxuries, sometimes for the better. A poor example might be horses changing from messy requirements for transportation to luxuries for recreation. A current example is the book, morphing from the only way for substantial bodies of content to be stored, transported, and retrieved, to a bulky, unsearchable, environmentally wasteful luxury item for those who prefer the heft and balance of a physical book (the issue of whether the book--print or digital--is an…

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Letters 4.23 – 4.28.14

Dear Correspondents, It has been incredibly satisfying to receive such a strong response to last week’s launch of socialcorrespondence.com. It seems that many of us are nostalgic for the mail of the old days, but still prefer to conduct our social correspondence by e-mail or social media, and limit our snail mail offerings to thank you, sympathy and sometimes birthday notes. Perhaps if we all committed ourselves to writing one short letter a week, hand written and sent through the mail, we would regain that sense of satisfaction upon hearing the arrival of the postal carrier…

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