From the Pribilofs to Schaumburg in Five Days
On a day like today, the thing to say is, Mitch Miller was still alive? I never saw Sing Along With Mitch that I remember, being more in the Slam Bang Theater demographic.
I'll also put in a kind word or two for the beleaguered USPS, despite the prospect of another price increase, the occasionally ugly stamps, and the items that go astray. (No Saturday delivery, that would bother me.) This is an interesting graph that depicts the nominal cost of first-class postage vs. the cost in 2008 cents. Mailing a letter, for those of us who still do that, is now moderately high by historical standards. But the real cost has been higher at times: during the 1890s and first two decades of the 20th century; during the Depression; and during the late 1970s. The eras of cheap postage, on the other hand, were the 1920s and the post-World War II years until about 1965.
As for losing things, that's no monopoly of a quasi-public monopoly that really isn't a monopoly any more. Some years ago when I was an editor, we used to ship physical images for use in our magazine to the printer via a well-known overnight delivery service. Good thing we had plan B images, because one time -- oops, now where did that shipment go? The delivery company found it, weeks later, and returned the images to us. Some of them. Those we got back looked like they'd been dropped to the floor and ground up by heavy boots.
This comes to mind because I got a postcard -- two postcards -- today from the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. They were mailed on July 28, which is speedy service considering that the islands are in the Bering Sea. One card depicts Saint Paul Island, one of the group, and the other card sports Wrangell, which is on the mainland. Both postmarks depict Saint Paul Island, home of Aleuts, seals and sea birds.
Of course Ed sent them to me. The generation -- maybe Lilly and Ann's -- that doesn't know the pleasure of dropping a physical message in a box, with the near-assurance that it will reach a remote location (everywhere is remote from the perspective of the Pribilofs) for a small fee, will be poorer for it. Nor will they know the pleasure of receiving such a card. They won't realize what they're missing.