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A Father’s Note to His “Timeless” Daughter, Ladies, Start Your Lawnmower Engines! and When People Sent Their Children Through the Mail

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 30, 2022 3:00 am

A Father’s Note to His “Timeless” Daughter, Ladies, Start Your Lawnmower Engines! and When People Sent Their Children Through the Mail

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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June 30, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Richmond radio host Jeff Katz shares a note that his daughter won't ever read, but will surely impact your life for the better. Julie Tynmann's here with her story about the greatest show on turf. Christopher Warren shares the history of the U.S. Postal Service and a time when people mailed their children… and on one instance, an entire bank.

Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)

 

Time Codes:

00:00 - A Father’s Note to His “Timeless” Daughter…Who Functions At A Toddler Level

10:00 - The Grass and the Furious: Ladies, Start Your Lawnmower Engines!

35:00 - When People Sent Their Children Through the Mail

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Let's ride. This is Lee Habib, and this is Our American Stories. And today, we hear from Jeff Katz. He's a radio host in Richmond, Virginia, and he's also a columnist for the Boston Herald. And here, he shares his deeply personal story about his teenage daughter, Julia, who has what doctors call global developmental delays and disabilities.

And all that means is that she functions physically and mentally at the level of a toddler. Here's Jeff reading a note that he wrote to his daughter. Dear Julia, I'm writing you this note on March 7, 2018. Today is the day that you turn 15 years old.

It's an interesting day for me and for Mom, but it's another day for you. You're not like other kids, my sweet. You've never made a big deal of your birthday. You've never asked us for any type of a special gift. Not for your birthday, not for Hanukkah, not for Christmas. You've treated each and every day in the same way. Mom will wake you up and you'll have a smile on your face when you see her.

She'll play some of your music and you'll smile even more. You may laugh or giggle or squeal, but there will not be any words. You won't complain about having to go to school.

You won't be happy to hear that it is a snow day. You won't celebrate the fact that today is 15 years since you were born. Most 15-year-old girls would be thinking about clothing, college or a car. By 15, many dads have already had to warn their daughters about some dopey boy.

But today, you'll watch your favorite episode of Jack's Big Music Show, enjoy your cereal and be on the lookout for cookies wherever you can find them. Mom and I know that you will be with us as long as we're alive, but we worry about what happens after we're gone. You have two wonderful brothers and I pray every day that we have raised them well enough to know that they will need to look after you someday. You may be our middle child, but you'll always be the baby. Even as you get older, according to the calendar, as mom told me yesterday, you are timeless. You'll always be my pipsqueak, despite the fact that the years are flying by.

No, we're not exploring potential careers or making plans for your wedding. We're still hoping that we'll be able to help you move from diapers to the potty someday. You live today the same way you did when you were about 18 months old. You don't speak and you only recognize a few words, but oh, the words that you know. Kisses and cookies. No matter how filled up you are, there's always room for a cookie or two. You don't understand when I ask you how your day was, but you become laser beam focused when you hear the crinkle of the wrapper on a package of something sweet. No matter how sweet that candy, it's still eclipsed by your genuinely sweet smile. So many people live their lives asking for things, demanding things, accumulating things.

Most people never take the time to stop and savor a piece of cake or breathe deeply to appreciate a gentle breeze like you do. I hear people in this world use horrible insulting language to describe kids like you, and I want to shake them, yell at them. Some mock disabled kiddos like you, and I feel like crying. You don't understand their words, but I do.

Sometimes I really wish I did not. We never thought you would crawl, let alone walk, but you showed us. Your situation and challenges and disabilities have caused me to question my belief in God on some days and have served to strengthen it on others. You don't speak, but somehow you are able to brighten my days in ways that I never imagined. Without a single solitary word, you've made me a better man and touched countless people. Hearing you cry ties my stomach into knots, but your giggle is truly the happiest sound that I have ever heard.

I know you'll never read this, nor would you understand this if I were to read it to you. So let me just say, kisses and cookies, Jules Bagules. I tell you today what I have told you on every March the 7th since 2003. Daddy loves you more than you will ever know. And thank you for that reading, Jeff.

You've made me a better man, he wrote. Your giggle is the happiest sound I've ever heard. On Julia's unexpectedly learning how to walk, Jeff told the Boston Herald that, quote, it was one of the proudest days of my life.

One of the happiest days of my life. But I also have to tell you, it's a terrifying situation because Julia is like a toddler. She has no real understanding of, oh, the stove is hot, or I could fall here or trip there.

We're thrilled that she's trying to explore on her own a little bit, and we're terrified at the same time. And this is true for all of us parents, but even more so for Jeff and his bride. Jeff has said that it's tough to realize that he'll never get to embarrass Julia by dancing with her at her wedding. But, quote, she's the best thing that's ever happened to me, end quote. And last but not least, he said these words, quote, she's never spoken a word.

She's never said a word to anybody. But she's touched more people in her 15 years on this earth than I ever have. Her joy is pure. To me, she's like the face of God.

She's the essence of good, and she shares her joy with everybody. Jeff Katz's story, his daughter Julia's, here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of seventeen dollars and seventy six cents is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American stories dot com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

That's our American stories dot com. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 9 0 2 1 OMG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by nerd tech O.D.T. We recorded it at I heart radio's 10th pole event, Wango Tango. Did you know that nerd tech O.D.T.

Remedia pants. Seventy five milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango. It's true. I had one that night. And I took my nerd tech O.D.T.

and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by nerd tech O.D.T. Remedia pants. Seventy five milligrams life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family. But thankfully, nerd tech O.D.T.

Remedia pants. Seventy five milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon, millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices for those eligible. Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

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Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we continue with our American stories. The Lone Star Mower Racing Association, and that's LSMRA for you fans, started in 1998, but the sport of lawnmower racing goes back to 1973, when an Irishman named Jim Gavin and a few of his mates were fed up with the hefty price tag that came with most motorsports and wanted to create a sport that was cheap and accessible to everyone. As the pints flowed, they looked out the window and there was the groundsman mowing the grass. It was then that they realized, hey, everyone has a lawnmower. That's when they decided to have a race. 80 mowers showed up at the very first contest. Here's Julie Tinman with her story about the greatest show on turf.

Well, I think I'm pretty much a unique unicorn. I don't know anybody in my family who is into lawnmower racing. I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, on the southwest side of town. My parents each worked two full-time jobs, so they were hardly at home because they were always working, you know, trying to provide for us. And I didn't know it at the time, but we were poor, which was the best kind of poor, right? You didn't know you were poor when you were a kid. You only figured it out when you got older and you're like, oh, yeah, I didn't get to do all those things.

I kept so active that I didn't let any of that really bother me very much. You know, and after high school, I did go off to college. Unfortunately, I found myself in the same position my parents were in. I had to work two jobs just to take care of myself and pay for my apartment and where I lived and food and all that stuff.

I think what minimum wage was four bucks an hour at the time. So I was working 40 to 60 hours a week. So it took me eight years to graduate, but I did it.

I got my bachelor's in accounting. And after that, instead of going to Europe with my friends, I decided to get married and we would go kayaking. We would go fishing off the piers. And we also started cycling because basically, you know, it took the stress out of life because he and I both had full time jobs that were very demanding and very stressful. So we found great, great pleasure in doing these these activities together. And it also created a bond between us. So we were doing that.

We were doing our thing. And then I was blessed with some children and he and I raised these two beautiful kids. So the kids are grown.

They're, what, 12 and 14 now. And he and I are watching YouTube and these lawnmower racing men come up on the on the screen and I'm looking at that. And I'm like, wow, Rob, I think I would do that. And he's like, you would?

And I'm like, yeah, I would. I would race a lawnmower. And my husband, he's all into cars. He didn't do sports growing up. He built cars. That was his thing. So I don't know what I unlocked there, but I definitely unlock a piece of him. He has, you know, a piece of his.

They hadn't been able to use, you know, the skills that you needed to build something. So he wanted to make sure that he and I both knew what we were getting into. So we looked up lawnmower racing in Texas, came across LSMRA and found they were racing at a track called Camp Shayla over in Mejia, Texas.

It's kind of to the right of Fort Worth. And we visited the track. And it was just like I imagine everyone going fast around a track on a lawnmower.

Some of the faster ones look like little go karts. So he basically what he had to do is look up the rules for the U.S. Lawnmower Racing Association to see what did he need to do to build this lawnmower so I could race it. So we bought our property about 12 years ago. And when we bought our property, we had to buy a riding lawnmower because it was too much to do, you know, a push lawnmower. It's been retired. It's sitting in our, you know, graveyard of stuff out back. So we decided to to resurrect it. A fun fact about this lawnmower that for me anyways, is that when we first bought our property, my husband would have me sit in the little trailer attachment to the back of the riding lawnmower. And my kids were like one and three at the time that he would put the kids in the trailer with me and do like little hay ride around our property with the kids.

And that's what we did to entertain them in the evening. So I just find that it's just cute that we are now using this lawnmower to, you know, go fast around a track. So so one of the questions that I'm always asked the very first question is about the blades. Like everyone's really worried about the lawnmower blades. And yes, I'm here to reassure everybody that the blade of the lawnmower are the first thing that are that it is removed.

Like you don't race with lawnmower blades. I guess he reinforced the frame, lowered the chassis. He had to put a new steering system and a new braking system in. Oh, a new lawnmower tires, right?

He had the darndest time trying to put the tires on the wheel with axle. He bought a new 708 Predator engine that gives like 22 horsepower. We can go up to like 35 miles per hour. It can go pretty fast.

I know it kind of seems slow, but when you're not wearing a seat belt, it's still a little scary. So he had lots of fun doing that. Like I said, when he was a kid, he that's what he did. And now he gets he gets to use use that skill set to build his wife a lawnmower racing. And we didn't have a trailer. So we just had our Nissan truck. So he had to go buy some ramps and we pushed the lawnmower up the up the ramps into the trailer, hoping to Jesus that it wouldn't fall to the right or the left are on top of us.

But that didn't happen. You know, thank goodness. So now that I've been racing for a while, my husband, he's decided to get in on the action. And he bought himself an FXT lawnmower. And I actually have another lawnmower in FXS that I'm still learning how to drive. So I'm really comfortable in driving my GPT that goes about 35 miles an hour around the track. But I haven't become 100 percent comfortable in the FXS, which probably goes between 45 to 50 miles an hour.

It's definitely dangerous. But that's my next goal is to be 100 percent comfortable driving that. The first time I ever raced straight, my husband was taking pictures of me and he's like, Julie, I can see the fear in your eyes. And I'm like, yep, it was there. The fear was there. So I, you know, I'm thinking to myself how I'm about to go out on the track is that, you know, I have to put. What's that word?

How do you say you have to put your mouth where your foot is or your foot where your mouth is? So I'm like, this is it. I am. I am.

I'm going to do this. So basically, you race in classes. They go from like JP is for the young kids. But the highest classes are FXS and FXT. And basically, when you see a T at the end of any of our classes, that just means you're racing an engine with twin twin cylinders. It's supposed to go faster than a single cylinder engine. So lawnmower racing is is a coed sport, right?

It doesn't matter if you're boy or girl. And basically, the person who wins is a person who brings the best riding lawnmower and has the best driving skills. Because at the end of the day, you could have the best driving skills. But if you haven't worked on your lawnmower, it's going to break. You know, two, three laps in and then you're out of the count. And I see that happen a lot of times. People drive for hours and then their lawnmowers aren't working.

And that's always disheartening. Right. But basically, the person with the best equipment and the best driving skills wins because we're all racing on the same track and we all should be following the same the same rules. And you've been listening to Julie Tinman tell her story about the greatest show on turf.

And that, of course, is lawnmower racing. And when we come back, more of her story and her husband's and millions of American hobbyists who do all kinds of fun and silly things with their time here on our American stories. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 9 0 2 1 OMG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by nerd tech ODT. We recorded it at I heart radio's 10th pole event, Wango Tango. Did you know that nerd tech ODT remejipant 75 milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango? It's true. I had one that night and I took my nerd tech ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by nerd tech ODT remejipant 75 milligrams.

Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family, but thankfully, nerd tech ODT remejipant 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we continue here with our American stories and lawnmower racer, Julie Tinman, and her husband, who is the, let's just say, pit boss, crew, engineer, and everything else in between. We continue with this family story about a family hobby.

Here's Julie. Everybody, for the most part, is really nice and encouraging. You know, we take tips from each other. Mainly the senior guys are telling us youngins how it should be done. I have, on occasion, been able to keep out ahead of some of the gentlemen I race with. And afterwards, you know, they talk about cutting the wires on my engine or letting my gas out, you know, stuff like that.

But they take it easy on me because I'm a girl, which I don't know if I like or don't like, but I'll take it, you know. We all have to pick out a three digit code to put on our lawnmower. And like some people race for Jesus, they race for cancer, they race for a family name. On my personal one, we don't have a theme.

I just chose the code 45T because that meant a lot to me. It means, it's double meaning, right? It's kind of like double meaning. But the first meaning is for our 45th president.

And the second meaning is basically, basically about my age and T, you know, the first initial of my last name. You know, you have the inside track and you have the outside track. In my first lawnmower race, I rode the outside track the whole way through. And at the time, there was this wonderful lady, Jennifer, and she would just, I'm like, oh, there goes Jennifer. There goes Jennifer.

There goes Jennifer. I think she lapped me like three times. I was so embarrassed. I was so embarrassed that I wasn't more brave.

I didn't have, you know, additional courage. But everybody was very complimentary and encouraging, you know, after I did the race. And every time I went out there, I just got faster and faster. And now my life's mission is to never get lapped. That's my life's mission.

I really, I want to win, you know, I want to play first, second, third. But at the end of the day, if I didn't get lapped, I am doing good. So one of the things that I always wondered is, does it hurt when I see these, you know, guys fall over?

I kept wondering that and finally, you know, got answered my question because there I guess it was a couple of months in. I was going too fast and I got caught on the high side and I flew off my lawnmower and ran over my foot, landed on my back. But I was fine.

It was fine. It was a little like you go in slow motion as you're kind of flying through the air and have you feel the lawnmower kind of going over your racing shoes. That's why you wear racing shoes. So what I go out there in is a motorcycle racing jacket that has, you know, the paddings on the elbows and the shoulders and the back. And you have to wear long blue jeans or any jeans.

It's good if you in the upper classes, if you wear fire resistant pants because sometimes your engine does catch on fire and you wear a neck brace and a helmet. One of the things that I find helpful for me as a racer to mentally prepare for this race so that I am competitive because I can't go out there like, you know, happy go lucky. Right. Happy go lucky is not going to win the race. So I kind of have to change my thought process a little bit.

And Curtis O'Brien, he's one of our one of our guys, actually president of the Camp Shayla Racing Association. He says, you know, just get angry, you know, just pretend like you're you're, you know, actually, I can't really say what he said. But at the end of the day, at the end of the day, the thought is just to just to rile yourself up, to get angry, to pretend like you're you're driving like a bat out of hell, to get get out of a place you don't want to be. Right. So there I am.

That's what I'm thinking about. I'm angry. I need to, you know, drive super fast and do all the things I told you earlier that you shouldn't do. Right. You think about the safety of others when you do.

But at the same time, you have to make yourself a little bit angry so that it's a different part of your brain you use, I guess. The number one injury in lawn mower racing is a broken collarbone. So I always want to go fast. But at the end of the day, one of the things that our track steward always says is we all have jobs to go home to on Monday. All right. We have jobs and we have families. So you're out there.

You be safe. And if you can't pass someone safely, then you're not having them. So we all try to remember that when we're out there. But when you're trying to win, sometimes it's hard. But we've been very fortunate. We have have not had any any racing injuries that you couldn't recuperate from the next day.

So we've been very fortunate. But but those things happen. But I don't let that fear take over me so much. I mean, it is there.

It does exist. I mean, if you're not afraid when you're out there at least a little bit, then there may be something wrong there. You know, it's good to be afraid for your life and afraid for somebody else's life. And we race for trophies. We don't race for money most the time. Sometimes I'll have special events and I'll put up some money. But at the end of the day, it's for fun to hang out with your friends, your family. I keep telling my husband that my dream is that one day that we're we're retired, we both can retire. And all we do is drive around the United States racing at the different events because there's events in Louisiana and Alabama and Georgia and Missouri and Illinois.

They're everywhere. And I would love, love to to go out and race everybody, because normally you just race with your same group of people who have lawnmower racing once they come out of town. So it's great to race with other guys because you learn and they kind of push you a little bit. You know, especially if they're faster, you kind of just want to keep up so you can you push yourself even more. Now, I have to warn you, if you do start lawnmower racing, one leads to two, two leads to four, four leads to eight. So it is very addicting because you do have so much fun driving them. You just want to drive them more, more and more. And you see all these cool lawnmower setups and you just want to try it out. So there is my word of caution. So in a nutshell, that is what lawnmower racing is about.

Really. It's giving you adventure for the weekend and while you're hanging out with your friends and your family and allowing you to enjoy life. And a great job, as always, by Greg Hengler on the storytelling. And a special thanks to Julie Tinman with sharing her story, her passion, her family passion.

And that's racing lawnmowers. My life's mission, she said, never get left. I want to win. Get second, even third.

But I don't want to get left. You got to love it. We race for trophies, she said. It's for fun and to hang out with friends and family. The professionalization of sport can actually ruin all the fun.

And that's what lawnmower racing brings to these folks who pursue the sport and so many other hobbies across this great country. Julie Tinman's story, her husband's and her family's here on Our American Stories. Hey, you guys, this is Tori and Jenny with the 9 0 2 1 OMG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by nerd tech O.D.T.. We recorded it at I heart radio's 10th pole event, Wango Tango. Did you know that nerd tech O.D.T. remejipants, 75 milligrams can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango?

It's true. I had one that night and I took my nerd tech O.D.T. and I was present and had an amazing time.

Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by nerd tech O.D.T. remejipants, 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully, nerd tech O.D.T. remejipants, 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives.

I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. And we return to our American stories. And up next, another story from our Rule of Law series. Christopher Warren of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum is here to share about how some bizarre rules came to be, like why you can't send your child through the mail. Here's Christopher. Our postal history is very diverse in this country.

It really touches on every aspect of American history. There's not an event, a person in American history that hasn't been affected really by mail delivery over the years. Now, during the 19th century, through the 19th century, deliveries of packages was not part of the postal department's purpose. Really, they would only deliver things that were four pounds or less. So there was no real package delivery from the United States government. If you wanted to mail packages anywhere, you had to use private carriers, companies whose rates were constantly in flux.

There was no regulation on how much sending a package from one location to another, how much that would cost. It was relatively expensive, so mainly it was used by businesses sending things back and forth. Other nations, especially in Western Europe, had instituted government-funded package delivery, and the United States was kind of late to the game in this regard.

But by the 1880s, 1890s, this was becoming a big topic of conversation. Lots of people wanted this postal delivery to be upgraded to more than four pounds. It was controversial in Congress because many of the senators in Congress were big investors in these private carrier companies, so they didn't want the competition from the government because the government would regulate the rates. I just thought they had regulated the rates on regular mail delivery.

So it was a contentious battle throughout the 1890s. They were used to getting their mail delivered to them, and they began advocating and complaining that they should also have more regulated, cheaper ability to send larger packages through the mail. Eventually, the private companies who would deliver these packages, they lost kind of their advocates in Congress. So in 1913, parcel postal delivery was begun by the Postal Service.

Originally, it was, like I said, up to four pounds, but once this parcel postal service delivery was instituted, you could then mail things up to 11 pounds. This was hugely successful. In the first six months alone of this parcel postal delivery, over 300 million parcels were delivered. In six months, 300 million. That's a ton. Because it was so successful, the Postal Department increased the size of packages, the weight of packages that could be delivered.

It went from 11 pounds to 20 pounds, and eventually it went to 50 pounds. So with this new delivery system, the regulations were kind of, they weren't all spelled out. The Postal Department had not anticipated some of the issues, types of things people wanted to send through the mail. You name it, people tried to mail it, including their children.

This was not an endemic problem, but did occur on a few specific instances. Probably the most well-known instance of a child being mailed occurred on February 19, 1914. The little girl's name was Mae Pierstorf, who was almost six years old at the time, and she was actually mailed from her parents' home in Grangeville, Idaho, to her grandparents' house about 73 miles away, for just 53 cents worth of stamps, which were actually pinned on her coat. Her parents didn't want to pay for the more expensive train ticket to send their child to her grandparents, so instead they used the postal service. Now, she wasn't the only child that was sent through the post. The first one was a child, an unnamed boy, we don't know his name, but he was mailed from Batavia, Ohio, and he was carried by the rural free delivery carrier, his name was Vernon Leto, to the little boy's grandparents again. But that was only about a mile away, and they knew the postal carrier, they trusted the postal carrier. It cost them 15 cents, and the parents even insured the package, their son, for $50, just in case.

It happened a couple more times. Probably the longest trip that ever occurred from a child being mailed was from a six-year-old named Edna Neff. She traveled from her mother's home in Pensacola, Florida, to her father's home in Christianburg, Virginia, which is a little over 700 miles, went by railway mail train.

It cost 15 cents in parcel post stamps, which is much cheaper than a train ticket going from Florida to Virginia. And of course, this all had to be under the 50-pound limit. The first one I talked about, she was 47 and a half pounds. Most of these children were young, they were small. 1915 was really the last year that we have any evidence that children were sent through the mail. The Postmaster General in 1914 had actually seen that this was a problem, a continuing problem. Some of the local Postmasters were writing back to Washington, D.C. for guidance on what they should do with this, but they looked in the regulations and there was nothing in the regulations that prohibited mailing children. So very quickly, the Postmaster General changed these regulations in 1914, saying that no human being could be therefore sent through the mail. But it still occurred a couple more times in 1915, and it was either Postmasters ignoring the rules, because remember, they were very far away from Washington, D.C., so they didn't always feel like they had to obey every single rule every single time. September 1915 is the last known instance of a child being mailed.

Three-year-old Maud Smith, she went on her partial post journey, and again, she traveled from her grandparents' home to her mother's home in Jackson, Kentucky. A local newspaper actually recorded this incident, and they also recorded that it was being investigated by postal authorities. Remember, it was against regulations in 1914, and this happened in 1915. So once those investigations started on this type of activity, they really ended, and that was the end of sending your children through the mail for cheaper than a train ticket.

We're pretty sure that because of these investigations, no Postmasters from that point forward thought it was worth the risk, even if they could get a little notoriety or celebrity status. So there's a lot of great pictures out there of children in mail bags, children with stamps on them being supposedly sent through the mail, but most of those pictures were staged just to kind of highlight and have a little fun with the process of mailing children. It only happened maybe ten times total that we know of, and most of the time, they knew this rural mailman trusted him.

Small towns, rural areas, everybody knows everybody. He would hand-deliver the child to the parents. So it wasn't as scary as we might think of, like actually sending your child and just trusting in the postal service. They knew these mail carriers. They trusted these mail carriers.

It's still dangerous, of course. We wouldn't think about doing that today, but it was a lot cheaper than getting a train ticket. We're all, of course, familiar with the mail and postal delivery, and it's been part of everyone's life forever.

We just don't even think about it much anymore. So it's the institution of a new service or an upgraded service like parcel delivery that we take for granted. We don't think anything about our Amazon packages coming from the post office today. But back then, it was brand new to people, and it's interesting to see how they wanted to use this service, what they used it for.

It was brand new to them, and they had no guidance or regulation. There was a man in New York City who bought a roast beef downtown New York City. He mailed it to his wife.

It arrived in the Evening Post, and she cooked it, and by the time he got home from work, the roast beef dinner was ready. One of the more interesting items that was sent through the mail was an entire bank, brick by brick. So in Vernal, Utah, the Bank of Vernal, Utah, was wanting to build a new bank. The closest place they could get bricks for the bank was about 127 miles away in Salt Lake City. Now, it would have cost about four times the amount to have those bricks transported via railroad and then horse and carriage to the site, this construction site. They needed 40 tons of bricks, so they sent them in 50-pound packets. So day after day, all these 50-pound packets of bricks would show up at the Salt Lake City post office, and they would have to deliver those to Vernal, Utah.

And it was successful, and the Vernal bank is still there today. Again, the Postmaster General saw this was a problem. The purpose of the postal department was not to send massive construction supplies. So he came out with a regulation saying you had a, back then, a maximum of 200 pounds could be sent per day from any one individual.

So that stopped this kind of activity. But, you know, it was a great work-around for a very intelligent businessperson or construction person. Instead of paying four times the amount, sending it by freight, I'm going to send it by 50-pound packets at a time, and it got there, and they constructed their bank. It's interesting to see right when the service was instituted, people were shipping things that today we would maybe even hesitate to ship. Metal egg crates. Farmers could send eggs, you know, a dozen eggs, to purchasers through the mail as well. And today, you know, people get their groceries through the mail, but it's always kind of touch and go with the eggs.

But even back then, they were trying to send these things. Butter boxes. So you could send sticks of butter to people who were purchasing them, keep it cool and keep it protected through the mail as well. Bees. Queen bees and beehives were being sent through the mail right from day one.

Special boxes were built so they couldn't escape, but you could keep food inside so they'd stay alive. There's all kinds of items that were being sent right from the get-go that we would think would be maybe a little odd today or just maybe to take for granted. Why would you send your child through the mail? Who would think of that? Somebody did.

People used this service, like I said, 300 million in the first six months. Anything and everything they were trying to ship to people. And a special thanks to Madison for the production on the piece. And a special thanks to Christopher Warren, and he's at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. When you're in D.C., take a visit.

The Smithsonian franchises are all around the city, straight out to the Air and Space Museum. Another rule of law story. This was not as serious as civil asset forfeiture or eminent domain or rule of law as it relates to property and intellectual property rights, but I think we could all agree it's probably a good idea legally not to be able to mail our children. The story of America's Post Office, some stories about it, and some fun ones and some odd ones here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 18:58:52 / 2023-02-16 19:15:37 / 17

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