Postcards: Notes from Notables
Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City Harvey Milk Letters to Susan Davis Alch

Postcards: Notes from Notables

By Tim Wilson With summer upon us, our thoughts turn to vacations. Beaches, perhaps. Points of interest. Ports of call. And where there's travel, there are often postcards--short notes to let our friends at home know that they are in our thoughts while we're having a fabulous time. Postcards fall under the general category of correspondence but they are their own enigmatic form of communication. Concise. Often fragmented. Occasionally cryptic. They are scattered throughout the Hormel Center's archival collections. Here we've selected some examples that offer glimpses into the activities of Alice B. Toklas, Harvey Milk,…

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Letters to Myself: Alan Blackman

Alan Blackman has had a long and storied career, as an artist, calligrapher, typeface designer for Adobe, lettering arts instructor, and three years working for the U.S. Post Office at San Francisco’s Rincon Annex. By his own account, however, his most significant work is Letters to Myself. Letters to Myself was a personal project first undertaken by Blackman in 1968. His then 11-year old son Stephen lived across the bay in Berkeley, east of San Francisco. Through his work in the postal service, Blackman became familiar with “first day covers,” letters affixed with a stamp on…

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New Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service has been busy again issuing new stamps, and now there are even more stamps to enjoy. There is a stamp to celebrate Lunar New Year, an ovation to Maya Angelou, a Vietnam Medal of Honor stamp, a Special Olympics stamp, stamps featuring water lilies, vintage roses and tulips, and more. But it seems that the best is yet to come. Among the new stamps, let’s first take a look at the timeless and ever popular Elvis. The latest Elvis stamp will be dedicated on Aug. 12 at Graceland in Memphis. Priscilla Presley…

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A Stamp Brouhaha

Postage stamp errors have been plentiful since pre-paid stamps were first introduced in the U.S. in 1847. Stamp mistakes often are related to spelling, color, using an incorrect image, or perhaps printing an image upside down. None are more likely to cause a brouhaha, however, than factual inaccuracy. It is highly unlikely that the U.S. Postal Service intended to create a controversy, but a recently released Forever commemorative stamp has caused such a brouhaha. Issued on April 7, the stamp pays tribute to the late poet, writer, singer, producer and actress Maya Angelou. Ms. Angelou died…

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Readers Corner – Wedding Etiquette

Dear Readers, As always, I enjoy and appreciate receiving your comments and letters. The following are excerpts from letters received about the post "Wedding Etiquette," See also comments posted on the site. "Happy mother of the bride!" LETTERS Just read your posting and enjoyed very much!  As for timelines, I'm happy to receive a thank you anytime!  I know manners have changed dramatically in the past decade or so, and I'll accept any form of thank you!  Although with my limited experience, because my kids or their friends don't tend to get married, it seems when…

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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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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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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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