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You Got Mailed

On January 1, 1913, the U.S. Post Office introduced domestic parcel post service (the sending of packages through the mail), and it was an instant success with over 4 million packages handled during the first 5 days of service. The effect on the national economy was electric. Marketing through parcel post gave rise to great mail-order businesses.

Some customers decided to test the limits on what could be mailed by postmarking their children! Children traveled with trusted postal workers (not in mailbags). The first child mailed in the U.S. was a boy in Ohio in 1913. It only cost 15 cents to send him about a mile to his grandmother, but his parents did insure their child for $50.00. While it was “technically” allowed for a couple of years, the U.S. Postmaster General soon issued a “no humans” rule for the mail and the practice ended in 1915.

A True Story
On February 19, 1914, five-year-old Charlotte May Pierstorff was mailed from Grangeville to Lewiston. There were no decent roads traversing the seventy-five miles of rugged mountain terrain between the towns.  Traveling by train –as either a passenger or a package – was the only way to make the trip.  May had wanted to visit her grandmother and her parents could not afford to pay the passenger rate.   May was classified as a baby chick, and the postage to send her was fifty-three cents.

This true story is the basis for the book “Mailing May” by Michael O. Tunnell.  The story illustrates the wonderful and creative ways in which ordinary people solve difficult problems. 

You Got Mailed Activity To Try At Home!
While we typically do this activity using the freight scale in our Elmira Depot, you can try this at home with your bathroom scale! Figure out how much it would cost to ship yourself to Toledo, Ohio!

1. Determine how much you weigh.
2. Figure out how many miles it is from your house to Toledo, OH
3. Now, how much would YOU cost to ship? Every 10 miles will cost you 5 cents and each pound will cost you 2 cents!  Use your math skills to figure it out!
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