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Christmas Postal Rush

"One great trouble with the Christmas business," remarked the Nebraska State Journal of December 24, 1892, "is the habit formed by the great unthinking public of waiting until the last minute to put the packages into the post office. Now and then you find level-headed people who begin ten days before Christmas and drop carefully packed presents into the office in time to go through in good order before the rush commences. But these folks are the exception.

"Madame Grundy figures that the express trains go to the Atlantic coast in two days and to the Pacific in four days, and moves herself according to that schedule. She loads herself with bundles and applies at the window for stamps two or three days before Christmas, and then what a riot there is my countrymen! The office is gorged, the mail cars are swamped, and everybody connected with the [postal] service is in a fever of unrest to put the stuff in motion. The result is that flimsy pasteboard boxes that ought not to have been entrusted to the mails are smashed flat, addresses are lost, and the bulk of the presents cannot be delivered until a day or two after Christmas. . . .

"The rush this year in the Lincoln office has been unprecedented. For two days the packages have been pouring through the front windows in a Niagara of Christmas cheer. 'We have never seen anything like it,' said George Root, who has been guarding the stamp window for the past few days, as he stopped a few minutes to breathe last evening.'There has been a procession of people here all the time with every kind of bundle you could think of.'"

Postal employees were said to be straining to handle the increased holiday mail. "Two or three of them have already broken down and gone to bed. Life in the government service is not a picnic at any season of the year. While the world is enjoying the holidays it becomes a positive burden." The succeeding Journal on December 25 noted the introduction in St. Louis of a "street railway car" equipped for mail pickup, processing, and delivery to help expedite mail service in that city.

(December 2002)


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