Wartime Letters

High on a shelf in the closet of my parents’ bedroom there was a box full of letters, written from 1942–1944. It was wartime, and my father, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was stationed in Tiburon, but spent his days on a World War I era minesweeper, the U.S.S. Eider. He was 21 years old in 1942, and my mother was 19. As a teenager, I very much wanted to read the letters, but because I was told not to, I didn’t. There are two kinds of children, it seems: those who won’t take no…

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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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Wedding Etiquette

I have a new best friend. Her name is Emily – Emily Post, that is. Emily has been guiding me through the intricacies of wedding etiquette, especially with regard to written correspondence. As my own wedding took place nearly four and a half decades ago, I am a bit rusty on protocol. But while serving as first lieutenant for planning my daughter’s Valentine’s Day weekend wedding, I learned many valuable tips from Emily. Of course, the one and only Emily Post no longer is with us, but her sage and gracious advice has been updated by…

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Readers Corner: Letters

Dear Readers: It is a new year and while snail mail is being delivered a little more slowly than in the previous year, my mailbox nonetheless has been filled with cards and notes over the past month (more on that in the next post). Please check out some past posts to see recently updated reader's reactions and comments, including "How the MTST Changed My Life," "Letters in the New Year" and "Winter Mailbox." The following email was sent in response to the post "Winter Mailbox." It addresses the deluge of mail we receive throughout the fall, including…

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Letters in the New Year

Welcome to 2015. Holiday cards and letters have been filed away, wrong sizes or colors have been exchanged, and now we must play catch up - pay bills, mind our New Year’s resolutions, and most likely, watch our waistlines, after some good holiday eating. Each new year, I vow to be more on top of things, but somehow, the late year holiday frenzy always gets in the way. But I am happy to report that I hand wrote, stamped and mailed all of my year-end greetings this year, even though Social Correspondence suffered. After all, the…

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Mail Privacy

Americans value their privacy, and the privacy of the U.S. mail is, for the most part, not only guaranteed, but also taken for granted. It is spelled out in the privacy policy of the U.S. Postal Service, and is codified through various federal laws and regulations. Recently, however, new information has emerged about the mail cover program, through which the postal service makes copies of the exterior of every piece of mail processed in the United States. First noted by The New York Times in 2013, this practice apparently dates back more than a century. Letter…

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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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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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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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