Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You've Got Mail

I still haven't finished sending all my Christmas cards, but I've already gotten quite a few. I'm referring to the old fashioned kind sent by snail mail, but I'll probably plenty of get e-cards, too.

The cards have made me think about the history of mail. In the 1500s when the first settlers came to America many of them probably never heard from friends they'd left behind in Europe again. If they did write letters to people from their past the mail would have been be carried by ship, then taken to the people's addresses. Some probably never arrived. By the time those people wrote back and the mail was transported to this continent and someone brought it to the person it was intended for, months would have passed.

Later mail was carried between American towns by horseback or in wagons. Benjamin Franklin became the first Postmaster General in 1775. Sending mail through the postal service was very expensive back then, so few people could afford to do it, If people knew someone who was traveling they'd often ask them to carry a letter to someone.

The telegraph was invented and wires were laid across the Atlantic to Europe in the mid 1800s and the Pony Express allowed people to communicate at distances in the West after 1860.

In the 1880s mail service became more efficient and the first Christmas cards were sent then.

Back in the 1940s when I was a kid we could mail cards and letters to family and friends on the other side of America and expect them to be delivered  in about a week.

Now when we send e-cards the delivery takes a few seconds, but I still prefer the old fashioned kind of Christmas cards.

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