Imagine being a mail carrier between 1863 and 1922. I’m sure that you are wondering why those dates would be so important. Well, they really are. In 1863, the United States Postal Service began what they called Free City Delivery. This service brought about the beginning of home delivery of the mail, at least in the cities. I suppose it also brought on the need for the mail carrier. What it didn’t bring with it was a large degree of efficiency. The mail carrier was required to go to the door of the patron receiving mail, and knock. Then they waited patiently for someone to answer the door to take the mail. That is about the strangest idea to me. The person would either need to be home every day at the time the mail carrier was supposed to be there, or somehow know the date something was coming…an impossible task in those days, or have someone else there to watch for the carrier. It was estimated that the carriers lost over 1.5 hours a day, waiting on the patrons to come to the door.
As early as 1880, the post office began to suggest that people put a letter box on their door, so that the mail could be left at the house, even if no one was home. The Post Office wanted wall-mounted mailboxes to the outside of the houses instead of mail slots. They wanted them to be mounted at the height of a standing man. The plan was that the carrier would not have to bend over to deposit mail, and the outgoing mail would stay dry. People are notoriously slow to accept change, and I’m sure this situation was no different.
By 1916, with little change in the situation, the post office began working on a plan to achieve the compliance they needed. The deadline was set. The homes were to have a letter box by March 20, 1922. After that date, the mail would be held at the post office, if no letter box was in place. As we look back now, it seems strange to think that anyone would fight the letter box plan. It’s such a simple way to get your mail, and it does not involve a daily trip to the post office. I can’t imagine why anyone would want the hassle that not having a mail box at your home would bring. I think they probably felt same way after they had one for a while.
When my Uncle Wayne Byer was a little boy, it was unheard of for boys to wear shorts…or at least that was the opinion of Uncle Wayne, his brother, my Uncle Larry, and the boys they hung out with. They weren’t against going shirtless in the summer as a way of beating the heat though. Uncle Larry didn’t go shirtless as often as Uncle Wayne did though, because being a blond, he sunburned much easier than Uncle Wayne did. Uncle Wayne, on the other hand, tanned so deeply in the summertime that people often asked him if he was an Indian.
Summers were spent playing outside for most of the day, much of that time in the middle of the street. One woman in particular got very annoyed at the kids as they always seemed to be in the street when she wanted to drive down it. She proceeded to yell at them to “get out of the street and stay out of it.” Like most kids, that didn’t influence them much. They nonchalantly stepped slowly out of the way and let her pass, and then promptly went right back to playing in the street. I have to think they played out in the street at the exact time she had to leave for work, just so they could irritate her…typical of kids, and the mischievous brothers and their friends really enjoyed irritating her.
Uncle Wayne also loved playing Annie-Annie Over, which was a game where one team threw a ball over the house, calling out Annie-Annie Over. That was the only warning the other team got. If they caught the ball, they could sneak around the house and try to tag someone on the opposing team with the ball, before that team could run around to the other side of the house, thereby claiming that side as theirs now. If they tagged someone, that person was now on their team. If the ball didn’t go over, the throwing team called out Pigtail. That way, they got another chance to throw. When one whole team ends up on the opposing team’s side, the game is over, and the winning team is the one with team members. The summer days were filled with this and many other games, and made for great memories.
Uncle Wayne and the rest of the boys he hung out with always seemed to be in some mischief and before long the police were called. No they weren’t in serious trouble, but in those days, the police would bring them in and call their parents. For most kids, this straightened them out pretty quickly, because calling their parents usually meant a good whoopin’ and that solved the problem, but these boys ended up at the police station more than once. Back then, there was a truck that drove around delivering pop to people who wanted to buy it. It was similar to the ice cream truck of today, or maybe the Swann’s truck. One time, when the driver was delivering pop to a house, and the boys decided to relieve him of a couple of six packs each. The delivery driver gave chase, and since the boys were a little bit hampered by 2 six packs of pop each, they couldn’t get away. The next stop was the police station, and a call to my grandpa. They might have been scared, but their dad was a pretty softhearted man, so maybe not. Today is Uncle Wayne’s birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!