July 24, 2014

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Curator's Corner — Little known facts PDF Print E-mail
Friday, February 28, 2014 9:03 PM

The Post Office slogan “We Deliver” has a great deal more in it than just delivering the nation’s mail. Not that delivering 180 billion pieces of mail is a small task but would you believe we also delivery life? Life comes through the mail by way of tissue donation and even transportation of organs. For decades now, the US Postal Service has tried to make this aspect of life more prevalent in the eyes of the public. The issuance of the Organ and Tissue Donor semi-postal postage stamp and the campaigns promoting its existence have brought this and other important health subjects to the forefront. The same could be said for the Breast Cancer Awareness semi-postal postage stamp. Each of these stamps is sold at a slightly higher rate than regular First Class postage. This added revenue is donated to the charitable organizations that foster these two highly needed aspects of giving life. But did you know that the Postal Service, the National Marrow Donor Program and Be the Match Foundation created the “Delivering the Gift of Life” campaign 17 years ago. To date, 59,125 postal employees and their families have joined the donor registry.

Another aspect of giving life is saving missing and exploited children. Through efforts with the US Postal Inspection service and with major mailers, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children launched the “Have you seen me” campaign.

To date the campaign has returned 152 missing children to their families. This example alone I believe demonstrates the power of the mail; if only one child had been saved, it would have been significant. Is there anything more dear, more precious than the life of a child?

Now for some of the lesser-known but strange facts about the USPS: It’s quite amazing how things have evolved from the old Post Office Department. For one, there were some very interesting rules postmasters had to follow. You may recall that if you sent a parcel and you also wanted to send the parcel with a letter in or on it, you had to pay separate postage for the letter. At that time, you would be asked what was in the package and if it contained First Class matter. Of course, people objected to both the question and the fact that they had to pay additional postage for the letter. The regulation as it reads today states: “Parcel Post mail is not sealed against postal inspection. Regardless of physical closure, the mailing of articles at Parcel Post prices constitutes consent by the mailer to postal inspection of the contents.” The rules about First Class matter are a good deal more blurry today but technically, if you are writing a personal letter, you are supposed to pay first class postage for it. (DMM 153.4.2)

Well in the early part of the 20th century there was one group that really pinched pennies and even got a little joy out of beating the establishment. I happen to be talking about college students. During this time frame, you didn’t have the modern conveniences of washing machines in dormitories and since mail delivery of parcel post was quite swift, it was very common for students to mail their dirty laundry home and get back the clean items in a short time frame. Being cautious about postmasters understanding the true letter of the law, the regulations spelled out exactly what was to be done. It stated that postmasters should be extremely diligent by inspecting packages of dirty laundry for personal letters stuck in amongst the clothes. I assure you I believed in having patrons pay the correct amount of postage but dig through dirty laundry? I think not.

One additional regulation written in those early postal manuals dealt with minors who might be receiving “questionable material” through post office box service. I hope I don’t have to spell out what they meant by questionable but note they specifically stated “minors.” The postmaster was given a directive that if he or she were to discover that minors were indeed receiving this material through the mail, they were required to contact the parents or guardian of the recipient and make them aware of the situation.

In my last article I announced our Chicago trip scheduled for this June 5-8. With just that item and an announcement at our Gala in February, we have reservations for 27 people who wish to travel to the Windy City with us. Wow, that’s almost two people a day! Only 29 seats left and at that rate we’ll be sold out in just the next two weeks. Call me or Ruth Ann Wittler for additional information at 419-303-5482 or 419-692-4536. You won’t want to miss the boat on this one because you get to have it all. Follow our itinerary, choose one of your own or mix and match. You will have free access to 26 major attractions in the Chicago area as well as all your transportation, dinner theater and three nights in a four-star hotel. Call today.

 

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