Postcards in the Mail

Sending picture postcards in the mail is a tradition of somewhat recent vintage.  And now, even as the practice fades, who does not enjoy receiving a postcard in the mail? Postcards and notes in the mail The development of postal cards dates back to the late 19th century in Austria/Hungary and shortly after, in Britain.  Such cards were standardized in format and did not feature images. Postcards, on the other hand, in which the design features a picture or image on one side, with space for the recipient’s name, address, and a message, on the other,…


It’s That Time of Year

The catalogs have been arriving in the mail for months, because it’s that time of year.  The solicitations for charitable and political donations come in multiples every day, and even a few early holiday cards, letters, and invitations are trickling in.  The holiday season is upon us! The best holiday mail, of course, is personal:  the letters and cards that keep us in touch with family and friends, near and far.  I treasure these communications, and have trouble recycling them, even years after receipt.  The typical holiday letter has evolved over time.  These days, few people…


Underwater Post Offices Throughout the World

Post offices around the world can be charming, unique, or simply functional, but few places feature underwater post offices.  Swimming and letter writing are some of my favorite pastimes, but not necessarily together!  Only a few underwater post offices have survived, but they have their place in history. Twenty years ago, the small town of Risør, located in the south of Norway, constructed an underwater post office as a novelty for tourists.  Established by the local scuba diving club, it was billed as the only dry underwater post office in the world.  Constructed in the form…

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Free Stuff in the Mail

The holidays will soon be upon us, and already the pitches for non-profit donations are on their way, so expect to receive a lot of “free” stuff in the mail. Within the past two weeks, free items in my mail included one memo pad, one pack of tissues, return address labels from two different charities, one 2024 calendar featuring adorable dogs and puppies, and one set of six birthday cards with assorted designs.  I even received a solicitation that included a one-dollar bill.  Most of these gifts are from charities that I have never donated to,…

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What’s in Your Mail?

National Postal Worker’s Day was July 1, which seemed like a good time to check out what’s in your mail. As people have moved from doing business through the mail to electronic communications, first class mail has declined.  Banking, including bill paying, and personal communications have largely moved online.  Only occasionally do I receive handwritten notes, cards, letters, or postcards, and I suspect that I am not alone.  Even event invitations are conveyed electronically, through sites that track responses (RSVPs) and comments from invitees. Since 1926, the USPS has tracked mail volume by type of mail.…


Pandemic Pen Pal

Many of us are experiencing a new normal – perhaps working from home, avoiding theaters, dining outdoors – and with these new Covid restrictions, what better time than now to develop a written correspondence with a pandemic pen pal? Commonly, pen pals are people who seek friendships and new experiences through the exchange of letters, often among people who have no previous connection.  Many people favor international correspondence in order to learn and better understand the culture and customs of another country.  In the early days of Social Correspondence, I often read sweet stories about long-term…


Who Selects the Stamps

Who selects the stamps?  Each year, the United States Postal Service issues approximately 35 new stamps, covering a wide range of images and fields of interest.  In short, it is not hard to find something to like.  New stamps are selected by the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) of the USPS, whose members are appointed by the Postmaster General. Playwright August Wilson is featured on a new Forever Stamp The CSAC was established in 1957.  Currently, the committee has 13 members, representing “…collective expertise in history, science, technology, art, education, sports, and other areas of public…


For the Price of a Stamp

For the price of a stamp (Global International, $1.25), I can send a letter or card to my cousins in Switzerland and Canada.  The 2020 Global stamp features a beautiful chrysanthemum.  For the price of a stamp (Forever, domestic, 55 cents), I can send a note, thank you, condolences, and other messages to anyone in the country.  For the price of a stamp, I can honor history, celebrate musicians, view gardens, national parks, and other landscapes.  For the price of a stamp, I can acquire a beautiful piece of art.  For the price of a stamp…


Staying at Home

Sidewalk messaging How to practice social distancing Staying at home has become the new normal, because we are living in unusual times.  In recent weeks, my only outside activities are a weekly trip to the grocery store, and daily walks, generally close to home.  The air is cleaner, thanks to fewer automobiles on the road, and the Bay Area is getting some much- needed rain.  And the important thing is for everybody to take whatever steps are possible to keep not only themselves, but also those around us, safe in this time of pandemic. In many…


Notes for the New Year

The last of the cards and notes for the New Year come in a slow, uneven trickle, soon to be but a memory.  Second to reunions and celebrations with friends and family, these physical notes, photos and greetings are my favorite part of the end of the year rituals, helping me to stay in touch with people who are important to me, both near and far. The post office continues to play an important part in people’s lives, judging by the crowds standing in line to mail packages and letters, either at the automated machines or…

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