CROSSROADS Language Studio’s Newsletter March, 2023 Post a Child
The U.S.A.’s Postal Service (the Post Office) was created way back in 1775, but it wasn’t until January 1st 1913 that the Parcel Post Service was introduced, allowing customers to send parcels and packages weighing 4 pounds (1.8 kg) or more (up to a maximum of 50 pounds or 22.6 kg) through the regular post. Private delivery companies were operating at the time, but this decision by the Postal Service allowed people to send large items to anywhere the Postal Service normally operated, including rural areas.
At first there were very few guidelines as to exactly what could or couldn’t be posted. This meant that people could send virtually anything through the Post with hardly any limits on size or weight.
So, thinking out of the box (no pun intended), people at that time began to get “creative” with Uncle Sam’s new Parcel Service. They began to “saddle” the poor postmen with all kinds of “parcels” to deliver. Eggs, butter, live seafood. bricks, snakes and other animals, to name just a few, were among the unlikely items people wanted sent through this new service.
Take for example W. H. Coltharp, an enterprising builder from that era. In an effort to cut costs, he decided to post 40 tons of bricks 127 miles (about 204.3 Km) in 50 pound packages (the max weight allowed) to
a building site in Vernal, Utah where he was building a bank!
But perhaps the most bizarre example of “human ingenuity” concerning the new Parcel Post was accomplished mere weeks after this new service was introduced. Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beauge of Ohio are the first on record to have spotted a bargain and used this new service to “post” their infant son to his grandmother’s house, some 1½Km away, for just 15 cents (about $3.72 or ¥500 in today’s money). The story made it into the newspapers and soon others followed.
Probably the most famous case was that of May Pierstorff. In 1914,
with the appropriate 52 cents worth of parcel post stamps affixed to her clothing, her parents posted her to her grandparents, some 187 Km away… much cheaper than sending her by passenger train. Her adventure inspired the publication of a children’s book, “Mailing May”.
Her unusual journey also came to the attention of the Postmaster General who promptly put a ban on “mailing people” from that day forth. Nevertheless, the practice persisted for some years before it finally petered out.So, here’s to “thinking outside the box!” … always…