By Megan Lardie
July 1st is National Postal Workers Day. The United States Postal Service and its workers have a bad reputation, despite the monumental task they are charged with every day. The first postal system in North America was started in 1639. It took mail that arrived in Boston by ship and deposited it at Fairbanks’ Tavern. The owner, Richard Fairbanks, sent the mail to its final destination, and was paid for each piece of mail he delivered.
Later, an intercolonial mail service was started and organized delivery between New York City and Boston. In 1683, another route from Maine to Georgia was started and William Penn opened an actual post office in Philadelphia. It was not until 1753 that Benjamin Franklin developed a speedier and more frequent mail service to England and to all of the colonies that the post office really began to form. He went on to serve as the first Postmaster General when the United States became an independent nation.
Due to the discovery of gold in California in 1848, more and more people started moving out west. By 1860, about ½ million people were living there. The telegraph was still at least a year away from being completed and the completion of the railway was still a few years away too.
The Post Office Department had joined with Pacific Mail Steamship to carry mail to California. With this plan, mail was carried by ship from New York down to Panama, then taken by horseback across the Isthmus of Panama, and then put on another ship and taken up to San Francisco.
In the best conditions, this would take about three to four weeks. If there was bad weather, it would take even longer! Some mail was sent on stagecoaches.
The mail traveled from Missouri to San Francisco. The trip was 2,795 miles and was advertised to take 24 days. Unfortunately, stagecoach mail was often delayed for months. In fact, the citizens of Los Angeles learned that California had been admitted to the Union six weeks after it happened. Hard to imagine in our “on-demand” way of life today! The Pony Express grew out of a need for faster mail delivery until the telegraph was finished. The responsibility of making the Pony Express work fell to Alexander Majors. He used precision and expertise to ensure success of the project.
Majors was able to buy over 400 ponies, build 200 stations in uninhabited areas, hire station masters, and hire riders. The route took about 10 days and was extremely dangerous.
Every third station was a “home” station, where mail would be handed over to a new rider. About 80 men rode for the Pony Express.
When hired, the men were given a Bible and had to sign a pledge promising not to swear, drink alcohol, or fight with other employees. The price to send a letter through the Pony Express was $5 at first and then lowered to $1. That is the equivalent to about $36 today.
To send a letter anywhere in the country today costs $0.63 and takes 1-5 days. If you need to send it faster, it costs about $28 and takes two days. So, think about that when you hear people complaining about the price of a stamp today!
In Ireland, An Post as it is called, did not form an organized system until the 16th century, with regular posts set up between Dublin and a few major towns in Ireland. Before there were post (mail) boxes on the street, “post boys” would go through the streets ringing bells to let people know they were collecting letters.
Ireland also used stagecoaches to deliver mail between Dublin and Cork. When the railway finally arrived, it made mail delivery more efficient in Ireland as well.
Kids in the Kitchen
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
- 1-1/4 cups caramel bits
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons butter
- Preheat oven to 350°. Microwave butter on high until melted. Add chocolate chips and milk; microwave until chips are melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in vanilla. Add flour; mix well. Stir in pecans and caramel bits.
- Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are set, 7-9 minutes. Cool on pans two minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- For icing, microwave chocolate chips and butter on high until melted. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Store in an airtight container.
Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express
by Marlene Targ Brill
When a Pony Express horse shows up without a rider, Charlie sees his opportunity for his next adventure. Find out if Charlie has what it takes to ride fifty miles to the next station through the Rocky Mountains, in the rain, with the threat of hostile enemies, wild animals, and the dangers of riding at night. For ages 7-10, 48 pages.
Robert the Rose Horse
by Joan Heilbroner
Can you imagine being allergic to roses? Poor Robert is a hard-working horse that is allergic to roses. Roses make him sneeze, but not just your average sneeze, his sneezes upend everything in its path and cause Robert to lose jobs. He decides to move to the big city in hopes of finding job security. For ages 2-6, 72 pages.
Gab in Gaelic
What is your address please? = Cen seoladh atá agat, le do thoil ?
(pron: Kane show/lah ah/taw ah/gut, leh duh hull?)
Q. What animal is always at the baseball game?
A. A bat
Q. Why did the detective show up at the beach concert?
A. Something fishy was going on!
- Terry from Derry: A Eulogy
- Pittsburgh Irish Fest Gallery Sept. 8-10, 2023
- This Just In: New Irish Language & Gaeltacht Growth Plan
- Taking the Fields of Glory: USGAA Championships Gallery, Denver, CO. August 18-20, 2023
- Taking the Fields of Glory: Midwest Championships Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio August 4-6, 2023, with Achill, Ireland Team & Pipe Band too!
*Megan is a Reading Intervention educator with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. She has a BA from Hiram College and BA+ from Ashland University. She resides in Avon Lake with her husband, Joe, and their five children. She can be reached at me************@ou*****.com.