Monday, October 26, 2009

Postal Cart

This is a pretty cool picture from 1912. It shows a Mail Man on a little motorized card. The cart looks to perhaps be a 3 wheel type device. At first I thought he was delivering mail, but upon closer inspection it looks like the cart is designed to receive mail from mail boxes. It looks like their is a chute, and the mail from the mailbox dumps down into the cart.


  1. I wonder if it was motorized or if it was a pedal unit. Such tiny tires on it. If motorized you would think it could tip over very easily if he got to gone at any rate of speed.

  2. PJM:

    I think you might be correct. In the “old days,” people would leave outgoing mail in their mailboxes, and the mailmen would pick it up when they made their deliveries.

    I don’t know if they do that anymore - probably not in areas where there are public mailboxes available.

    Also, many houses around here still have the old-fashioned “mail slots” in the doors, so the mail carriers wouldn’t be able to pick anything up.

    I would guess that mailmen still pick up outgoing mail from people’s boxes in more rural areas where the mailboxes out at the end of their roads or driveways.

    My neighborhood was built in the 1930s, and my house originally had a mail slot in the front door, which was nice, because the mail got put right inside.

    But . . . we eventually replaced the old door with one of those new decorative ones that has a fancy glass panel, so now we have brass mailbox hanging on the front of the house to the left of the door.

    I don’t like it as well, because the mailman jams the mail into it, and sometimes it falls on the ground or gets wet. And, when we go away, we have to have someone pick up our mail, or everyone will know we’re not there. I liked the mail slot better.

    Once we tried to "stop” our mail temporarily while we went on vacation. It was a total nightmare.

    First of all, the mailman kept delivering our mail for the first several days while we were away, and it spilled over the top of the mailbox and blew all over the sidewalk. One of our neighbors called us and picked it up.

    Then, in the middle of the week, they suddenly stopped delivering our mail altogether and didn’t resume when we got back, even though we had filled out the “vacation hold” card correctly (and well in advance).

    We couldn’t get our mail delivered any more until my husband went down to the post office and yelled at someone.

    They told us that they “thought we had moved.”

    So WHY did we fill out that stupid “vacation card?”

    I don’t recommend that option.

  3. Nobody said you have to be smart and be able to think thing through to work for the USPS.

  4. And in small towns as well. I live in Franklin, PA. and may people here put their outgoing mail in their obxes by the curb

  5. That is indeed a motorcycle. The mailbox (called a Cox box) and motorcycle were designed to work together. The mailman could pull up, load mail into the motorcycle and proceed without dismounting. The Postal Office installed 35 of these in the DC area. The postman's name was John C. Galther. The motorcycle was a single cylinder, five horsepower model. I don't know what make it was.

  6. R:

    Well said.

    So, does anyone know what's on that "Civil Service Exam" they all have to take?

  7. I think a couple of requirements was to be able to speak and read English and be a true blooded American.

  8. Well, that must be about IT, then.

    And . . .In this photo, I think I can see the mailman's feet on pedals in the back of the cart.

    It's too small to be motorized. I'll bet it was good exercise (but nasty in the winter)!

  9. Geezer:

    I didn't see your comment. It doesn't look like motorcycle to me, but I believe you.

  10. To Collect Mail Quicker
    Trial Route with Motorcycles and Cox
    Boxes May Revolutionize Services.

    Under the direction of Postmaster Merritt the city postoffice will place in operation September 24 and experimental route of mail collection, which if satisfactory may revolutionize this work in all the cities of the country. The experiment contemplates the combined use of motorcycles with the drop-bottom letter box invented by Dr. S. Clifford Cox, of this city.

    The motorcycle is equipped with a bin which can be placed under the box, which when unlocked pours the mail in the to bin. The collector merely has to halt his machine for a moment and is not called upon to dismount, as the throwing of the lever causes the box to close up properly.

    The route being arranged lies in Bloomingdale and Eckington. It is now being equipped entirely with Cox boxes.

    Washington Post, Sep 18, 1912

  11. I get my mail by rural delivery (RFD). You have to put up a flag when there is outgoing mail. The carrier can't remove the contents unless the flag is up. Just like a public mailbox, whatever you put in your rural mailbox becomes the property of the USPS.
    If you put a personal note (or a jar of apple butter) in your neighbor's mailbox, you will get a nasty letter from the carrier. Only stamped mail can go in the mailbox. It's tempting to put something for your neighbor in his mail box if he has a long driveway, but not worth the grief from the carrier. Once a friend put a quart of milk and a big gob of mohair she pulled off a goat into my mailbox. That earned me a snarky note!
    If a large package is delivered my postman leaves it on the ground near the mail box or pitches it over the gate. I've never lost a package. I have no complaints about the service.

  12. I took an exam to be the postmistress of a tiny rural P.O. I had to take the standard USPS test which was to prove I spoke english, could do basic math by hand, could type accurately - speed did not matter. Then because it was a postmistress job, I was interviewed by the Regional Chief for Northern California, the Postmaster of San Francisco, and had a background check by the Inspector General's Office. A man with a badge interviewed the neighbors about me. The job paid $10,000 year, but large or small a postmaster applicant is investigated thoroughly. I did not get the job - they said I was over qualified.

  13. I love that phrase "over qualified"
    I mean if you want the job, what does "over qualified" have to do with anything.
    I guess they think if you are
    "over qualified" and they hire you, then you will quit right away for a better job. How much better can it get than a postmistress?
    The real truth was his 2nd cousin wanted the job, but you were better qualified. So they
    "over qualified" you so they could give the job to his cousin.

  14. Here is a "good ole days" post office story. About 1980 when the postal employees put down roots in our town of 1000 (they didn't just come for a year & move on), a grandchild sent gramma a letter. He called her "Momer", so that's what went on the envelope plus the city & state. No street address, no box number, no first or last name. Gramma got the letter!

  15. To be fair, I was definitely over qualified, but I really wanted the job. They wanted someone who would stay in the job for a long time just because it was a tiny P.O. I was very young and scored high on the test. (I was also one of very few caucasians taking the test.)
    Only two people applied for the postmaster job; the other applicant was a local housewife. I guess they figured she'd be grateful and stay put. This is the post office:

  16. My grand morther lived on Main street in my home town. She got a lot of mail address to
    Gramma Mattern
    Main street
    Rugby, ND
    And that was before zip codes
    So in small town the mail use to be handled with a little common sense.
    But now if they have the just the wrong last digit it either goes back or the wrong person gets it.

  17. You guys are right!!!

    These days, if there's even ONE digit out of place with your zip code, they won't deliver it.

    And I love it when you get a piece of ripped, shredded mail in a plastic baggie with a paper on the front that says "we're sorry" and "we care." Yeah, right.

    I think it's great that some mail carriers still pick up outgoing stuff form people's mailboxes, but certainly not around here.


    Over the years, I've been hit with the "overqualified" excuse too.

    It means that they can hire someone for less money or that they think you're going to quit as soon as something better comes along.

    Which is not always the case. And usually, the minimally-qualified person doesn't work out.

    So they should have hired you in the first place.

  18. Judi:

    That's a great story, but it really depresses me to think that a story from 1980 represents the "good old days."

    My idea of the "good old days" is the mid-1950s.

    When did I get so old?

  19. I love the picture, but I can't refrain: the correct word is "there", not "their".


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