Mail Trucks of the Future

Have you ever wondered how many mail trucks are owned by the United States Postal Service, or how old they are?  The short answer is “a lot, and very old.” Approximately 140,000 of the familiar old Grumman mail trucks, created in 1989, are currently on the road, and their average age is over 27 years old. Prototype of new mail truck by Oshkosh Defense As part of the modernization efforts of the USPS, Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense was awarded a $482 million contract to design and plan new mail trucks over the next ten years, the first…

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Ponzi Scheme and Stamps

A certain type of fraud that dates back centuries, known as a Ponzi scheme, derived its name from a deception involving stamps in the early 20th century.  According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a Ponzi scheme is “an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.”  Investors are led to believe that their investment is yielding unrealistically high returns.  Despite the 20th century adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” billions of dollars have…

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Creating chaos at the U.S. Postal Service
Mailbox, Annapolis, MD

Creating chaos at the U.S. Postal Service

Multiple crises over the past year created an unprecedented level of chaos at the U.S. Postal Service.  The service has been disrupted by political disputes over mail-in ballots; removal of street mail boxes, mail sorting machines, and barcode readers; COVID-related illnesses among postal employees; and a much higher volume of mail and packages due to the pandemic.  Some of the causes of chaos were deliberate and avoidable. First, there was the dispute over mail-in ballots.  Due to the pandemic, many voters chose to cast their ballots by mail rather than wait in long lines to vote…

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New Threats to the U.S. Postal Service
Americans rely on mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more

New Threats to the U.S. Postal Service

Americans rely on timely mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more New threats to the U.S. Postal Service now challenge this essential service.   Ongoing budget troubles have been further exacerbated by the pandemic and a precipitous drop in the use of first class mail.  Add to that a new Postmaster General, a political appointee, who is making sweeping changes that reduce services, has endangered the ability of the Postal Service to manage mail-in voting Louis DeJoy, a businessman and major fundraiser for President Trump, took over the duties of Postmaster General on June 15,…

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Riding the Train
BMT Q Car Number 1612C (1908, rebuilt 1938), New York Transit Museum

Riding the Train

BMT Q Car Number 1612C (1908, rebuilt 1938), New York Transit Museum Riding the train is one of the great joys for my three-year old grandson.   Specifically, he likes to ride the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) F train, although the G train might do in a pinch.  The F train runs from Jamaica, Queens to Coney Island, Brooklyn, and my grandson is familiar with every Brooklyn stop.  As he pushes his toy trains across the table or floor, he mimics the automated train voice that intones, “Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” …

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What’s New at the Post Office
John Lennon stamp will be releases on Sept. 7

What’s New at the Post Office

Services, facilities and politics are evolving at the USPS.  So, what’s new at the post office? One service I tried out this year and have found very helpful is Informed Delivery.  Launched in the spring of 2017, Informed Delivery provides the postal customer with a daily email, which includes photocopies of the letter sized pieces to be delivered in that day’s mail, as well as notification of anticipated packages. Given the massive quantities of junk mail that the average customer receives, this service is valuable in anticipating important letters and documents. If you haven’t yet signed…

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Profile: Bud Bresnahan, Postal Inspector
Rincon Center July 2017 photo by Murray Schneider

Profile: Bud Bresnahan, Postal Inspector

Francis Gerald (“Bud”) Bresnahan grew up in Pacifica, California, son of a postal inspector.  His father, also Bud (Francis X.) Bresnahan, started work for the U.S. Postal Service shortly after he returned from his wartime service in the Marine Corps in 1946. Working for the post office was an excellent post-war job.  As a high school graduate, Bud (Francis X.) worked in the shipyards until he enlisted in 1942, after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was stationed near Quanico Marine base, Virginia, and later, Tientsin, China.  In 1943 he married his sweetheart, Charlotte, in Washington,…

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Election Mail

Once again our mailboxes have been filled to overflowing with election mail, despite it being a non-presidential election year. In San Francisco, the local ballot measures address such issues as housing affordability and population growth, construction and height limits, stricter regulation of short-term housing rentals, and more. A few of these measures have been highly contentious and caused deep acrimony within the city. This year’s election mail was especially overwhelming in District 3, in the northeast corner of the city, where a hotly contested race for district supervisor took place. In social media postings by my…

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Addenda

Addenda is an occasional Social Correspondence post that features updates to previous posts, adds brief comments, and makes note of related items. Addenda: Stamps A ceremony was held in Cleveland, Ohio, Paul Newman’s hometown, on September 18 to celebrate the first day of issue of the new Paul Newman stamp.  Those in attendance included Clea Newman Soderlund, senior director of special initiatives, SeriousFun Children’s Network and Paul Newman’s daughter; Robert Forrester, president and CEO, Newman’s Own Foundation; and other charities supported by the late actor and philanthropist. Paul Newman founded both SeriousFun Network and Newman’s Own…

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Email Letters
Works Progress Administration poster, 1940. Courtesy Library of Congress

Email Letters

The use of first class mail has been declining for two decades or longer. As both business and personal transactions increasingly take place on the Internet, including bill paying, marketing, retail sales, appointment bookings and more, the way we correspond with one another has changed accordingly. Have email letters replaced the personal letters we once wrote by hand or typed and sent through the mail? According to Teddy Wayne, writing for the New York Times, the answer is “no.” Long email letters, apparently, are now also a thing of the past. Wayne reports “business users now…

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