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 The Library of Congress has unsealed his previously unpublished letters to his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, the wife of one of his close friends.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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Early Letters of Harvey Milk

San Francisco celebrated Pride in big style this past weekend, a fitting time to pay tribute to the late gay activist and internationally famous icon, Harvey Milk, with a look at letters from his early, pre-political life. Harvey Milk was born in New York in 1930, nearly 40 years before Stonewall and 42 years before his move to San Francisco that changed the course of history. Through his letters, written 1956–1962 to his good friend, Susan Davis Alch, a picture emerges of a young man preoccupied with universal concerns: love, work, money (mostly, lack of), where…

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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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Sometimes It Is Difficult to Love the Post Office

  Last week was a great week for personal mail. Each day my mailbox revealed a new treasure, including an oversized post card from Sandra, two beautiful Mother’s Day cards (Happy belated Mother’s Day, everyone!) with handwritten notes from our daughters – thank you, ladies, for those amazing messages! – two additional personal notes from Nancy and Jane, and an article about social calling cards from Joan. Postmarks on the letters included Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, New York, Honolulu, Hawaii, and my home city, San Francisco. How much better can things get than receiving six letters and…

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Stamps: What’s Not to Like?

The price of stamps went up by three cents on January 26, from 46 cents to 49 cents. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is that those Forever stamps you purchased last year or before are still good – and they should be good, in fact, “forever.” But, before you use up all of those old stamps, consider this. If you hold on to them, they will become – no, not more valuable, but - vintage! That flower or landscape or lighthouse you bought last year because you liked the design will one day…

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Welcome to Social Correspondence

Welcome to Social Correspondence! This blog is dedicated to the art of letter writing. Too few of us actually receive “real” letters in the mail. For the most part, we don’t write them either. Letters in the mail were once a lifeline for people. Rather than placing expensive phone calls or using hand delivered missives, the U.S. Postal Service was the primary means of staying in touch with friends and loved ones and for business transactions. Today communication comes with many options. We can text, email, and use social media. We even can look at one…

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