“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
~ Inscription on the façade of the James Farley Post Office in New York City
You still see them every once in a while, the lonely metal box out in front of the house, ready for the next delivery.
Door-to-door milk delivery has, for the most part, gone the way of the rag man and the horse and buggy. Still, it sure brings back memories of glass milk bottles, afternoon newspaper delivery and the venerable caboose.
The latest change to come flashing across the internet was the news that the U.S. Postal Service will discontinue regular Saturday mail delivery Aug. 5.
Recently, I picked up the last print edition of "Newsweek," a commemorative magazine devoted to the nearly 80 years of national and international news coverage. That's an item I won't find again in my mail box.
I may have told this story before, but in case I haven’t, here goes. Back in the 1970s, we had a mail man (that is what we called them before "postal carrier" came into vogue) who was very popular among the neighbors. He delivered magazines and letters from far off relatives, along with bad news like bills and junk mail.
One day in late summer, as the school break was getting to be a little dull, we had some excitement in the neighborhood.
Short aside, we had a set of neighbors across the street that we dubbed Sonny and Cher. I swear that they looked exactly like the singing duo of the 1970s.
Well, their garage, or was it the kitchen, caught fire, and smoke was billowing out of the house. Our intrepid mail man calmly set his mail pouch down and went to work putting out the flames.
By the time the fire trucks arrived, the fire was out and all the firemen had to do was fill out the incident report. Our mail man continued his delivery while neighbors stood in their yards cheering.
It was a pretty weird sight, but it was pretty cool, too. For one brief moment, this man who we knew as that nice guy who delivered our mail became the hero of Glenwood Street in Griffith.
I heard a few years ago that he retired to Florida and is doing quite well in his easy chair. I sure hope so, because his image still pops into my head when I think of the work that these men and women do every day. I am sure that putting out small household fires was not in his job description, but like someone driving by who sees a stranded motorist will often do, he stopped to help out.
We’ll still see our mail lady, at least on my block, now and in the future – just not on Saturdays. Like a lot of other people who make their daily bread by working for wages, she is surely delivering a larger route and covering much more ground.
I believe there will always be a need for mail, for paper and packages to be delivered or picked up.
We should hope that the march of progress doesn’t take away that human interaction. I enjoy my brief conversations and look forward to the mail.
After all, that is how I get my magazines and even an occasional piece of interesting junk mail. In some rural communities and among our elderly, this service is the only tangible link residents have with the wider world.