We recently have just come off our summer vacation. I think this was one of my favorite vacations to date. We rarely get the opportunity to visit with Julie’s family as they live far away. Rather than blah, blah, blah about what we did while on vacation I’m going with a different approach. I think you’ll be able to travel right along with us via postcards from our 2,737 mile journey. So buckle up and enjoy the ride!
I’m not sure if any of you know this but I am a postcard junkie. I have a major addiction to postcards both new and old with the later being my favorite. There is just something about sending and receiving postcards that I truly enjoy. Maybe it’s that mystique of what I might find in my mailbox or that surprise in yours. Whatever it might be I truly enjoy it.
Some of you who are reading this may have been a recipient of one of my postcards from when I/we travel, a friendly hello or just a simple thank you. Yes I know what you are thinking I have to buy stamps and find a Post Office or mailbox when “I can just post a picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever is the new fad today”. I’ll be honest, I love your pictures, however I love even more when you take the time to send me something tan·gi·ble “That may be touched, real actual; evident.” Something that years from now I can look back on and re-visit your life, journey, event or day.
One of my favorite stories is of recent, about a woman from our running community, a friend who lives a good distance from our area. While on social media prior to the Christmas holiday I was raving about the local coffee shop and their “Christmas Blend” coffee roast. Katie chimed in with “We are serious coffee drinkers ” asking if I might ship her some, so I did. After a week went by and I heard nothing of her receiving my package. I sent her a message asking if it had arrived and her response to me was “I sent you an old fashioned thank you card in the mail”. It was a handmade card, I was elated!
Lately I have been recieving postcards from all around the globe. Have you ever heard of the Postcrossing project? I have been a member now for just over two years and I love it. I get to send postcards around the world and even better I receive them from around the world as well. Furthermore I have the added benefit of all different types of stamps from across the globe. Exciting, yes I know!
My friends I hope that you have a happy 2015 and who knows maybe one of my postcards will make it to your mailbox.
A little information about the “Postcrossing Project” in hopes it might peak your interest. http://www.postcrossing.com
The goal of this project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well, almost free! The main idea is that: if you send a postcard, you will receive one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.
Why? Because, like the founder, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail.
The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises – and who wouldn’t like that?
How does it work?
First, the short version:
request an address from the website
mail the postcard to the address
wait to receive a postcard
register the received postcard in the system
The first step is to request to send a postcard. The website will display (and send you an email) with the address of another member and a Postcard ID (e.g.: US-786). You then mail a postcard to that member.
The member receives the postcard and registers it using the Postcard ID that is on the postcard. At this point, you are eligible to receive a postcard from another user. You are now in line for the next person that requests to send a postcard. Where the postcard comes from is a surprise!
You can have up to 5 postcards traveling at any single time. Every time one of the postcards you send is registered, you can request another address. The number of postcards allowed to travel at any single time goes up the more postcards you send!
Following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan and entered the largest full-scale war in history. As war raged around the world, countries divided into Axis and Allied powers and battlefields spanned across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Members of the armed forces were deployed to the far reaches of the globe and were separated from their families.
In a days before email, cell phones, and text messaging, letters served as a vital link between loved ones and friends. Army Post Offices (APOs), Fleet Post Offices (FPOs), and U.S. post offices alike were flooded with mail sent by service members and sweethearts. According to the 1945 Annual Report to the Postmaster General, mail dispatched to the Army in that fiscal year reached 2,533,938,330 pieces compared to the prior year total of 1,482,000,000 and fiscal 1943 sum of only 570,633,000 items. The Navy received 838,644,537 in fiscal year 1945 whereas the prior period saw 463,266,667 mail items sent. The bulk and weight of parcels and letters was competing with military supplies in transport vehicles. Officials from the Post Office, War, and Navy Departments faced a large problem: Was there a way to save room for equipment and still deliver the mail?
The Post Office, War, and Navy Departments worked together to ensure V-Mail for civilians and service members around the world. Numerous personnel, expensive pieces of equipment, photographic supplies, ships, and planes were needed to process and deliver V-Mail. The volume of mail and supplies was such that all three departments were needed to keep the network operational and keep the mail moving.
The Post Office Department was responsible for domestic dispatch and handling of mail. The Post Office sorted V-Mail by respective Army and Navy post offices and delivered it to the V-Mail stations in the United States. Postal authorities divided the continental U.S. into three regions and funneled the incoming and outgoing V-Mail to three facilities: New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. At the ports of embarkation the War and Navy Departments took over postal duties and Kodak ran the V-Mail photography operations. The military was responsible for the transportation of mail destined for overseas personnel. Getting V-Mail to and from the field depended upon a network of V-Mail plants at key locations in the European and Pacific theaters.
Technology was the linchpin in this inter-agency, international network. At the center was the Recordak machine that was initially developed by the Eastman Kodak Company for bank records. The microphotography equipment was designed for ease of use and mass production of recorded materials. Great Britain’s Airgraph Service relied on Kodak for shrinking letters onto microfilm for shipment. Following that lead, the U.S. War Department entered into a contract with the Eastman Kodak Company on May 8, 1942 to use Recordak machines to process V-Mail.
Kodak coordinated the photographic operations in the continental U.S. When it came to the far-flung overseas V-Mail stations, the processing was in the hands of the U.S. military. There, staff relied on the Recordak’s straight-forward design and function to process mail quickly. Captain James Hudson, trained by Eastman Kodak Company, operated V-Mail in Cairo, Egypt, described the machine’s actions:
“It accepted a stack of regular size sheets of paper, about 8 x 11, and fed them one at a time through this machine that was about the size of a small chest of drawers, or today’s paper copier. Cleverly, a light scanned the sheet through a narrow, transverse slot and exposed one frame of a 16 mm motion picture film that was synchronized with it, so that one tiny frame had the image of the full sheet of paper. For those days, that was a lot of compression and tremendous synchronization to make it happen. Kodak gets all the credit for that innovation” http://postalmuseum.si.edu/VictoryMail/operating/flipbook_flash.html
V-Mail letter sheets were designed to make the microfilming process easy. The distinguishing marks and uniform size of V-Mail stationery helped workers gather the folded letter sheets for their special processing. All sheets were set to standard dimensions, weight, grain, and layout.
The materials were produced by the Government Printing Office as well as printing and stationery firms that had been issued permits by the Post Office Department. Multiple suppliers were used to get the V-Mail forms to the people quickly.
The Post Office Department provided customers with special stationery for free. Correspondents could obtain two sheets per day from their local post office. Others opted to purchase the materials that were readily available in neighborhood stores.
V-Mail stationery functioned as a letter and envelope in one. Once the sender had completed her message, she put the recipient’s and return addresses at the top and then folded the sheet into a self-mailing piece. This set of addresses was essential to the final stages for delivery because only this side was reproduced from microfilm to photographic print.
The sender repeated addresses a second time on the opposite side of the sheet. This set, on the “envelope” side of the form, was used to carry the mail along its first stage of the journey from a mailbox to a processing center.
For members of the armed forces the importance of mail during World War II was second only to food. The emotional power of letters was heightened by the fear of loss and the need for communication during times of separation. Messages from a husband, father, or brother, killed in battle might provide the only surviving connection between him and his family. The imminence of danger and the uncertainty of war placed an added emphasis on letter writing. Emotions and feelings that were normally only expressed on special occasions were written regularly to ensure devotion and support.
Military personnel felt the most connected to home through reading about it in letters. Civilians were encouraged to write their service men and women about even the most basic activities. Daily routines, family news, and local gossip kept the armed forces linked to their communities.
Wartime romances adjusted to long distances and sweethearts and spouses separated by oceans used mail to stay in touch. Couples were married on furlough and babies were born while their fathers were away at the battlefront. Letters kept America’s troops informed about home life and detailed accounts allowed them to be in the war and have that critical link back to their families. Others wrote to kindle new relationships and fight off the loneliness and boredom of wartime separation.
Mail played a significant role in maintaining morale on the battlefront and at home, and officials supported that role by working to ensure mail communications during wartime. V-Mail service could ensure this communication with added security and speed. The Office of War Information and the Advertising Council worked with commercial businesses and the community to spread the word about this new service and its benefits.
V-Mail was promoted as patriotic with advertisements emphasizing contributions to the war effort, such as saving cargo space and providing messages to lift spirits. To allay the fears and misconceptions of would-be V-Mail writers, news reports explained how the letters were processed and sped to military personnel.
In early December 2013 Nickelodeon and the United States Postal Service launched “SpongeBob MailPants,” an educational letter-writing program that uses SpongeBob SquarePants to show kids the fun of writing, sending and receiving mail during the holiday season. Kids could have gotten a special postage-paid, customized SpongeBob postcards at more than 25,000 Post Office locations nationwide to connect with their loved ones using the U.S. Postal Service.
In addition to the postcards, 30 mailboxes are being wrapped in a custom SpongeBob design in cities, including Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Hollywood, FL; Kirkwood, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; New York, N.Y.; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; and Washington, D.C., adding a blast of color and comedy to sidewalks this winter.
“This program is a great way to inspire kids to write and send cards and letters because it’s done with the fun, positivity and humor of the one and only SpongeBob SquarePants,” said Pam Kaufman, Chief Marketing Officer and President of Consumer Products for Nickelodeon. “SpongeBob MailPants is a terrific partnership between Nickelodeon and the Postal Service, and we’re thrilled that kids and families across the country can go to their local Post Office for some SpongeBob-inspired holiday cheer.”
“We’re excited to partner with Nickelodeon. This is a great, fun way to teach kids to write postcards. What better way to encourage kids to experience the excitement of sending personal correspondence than teaming up with SpongeBob, who is adored by children of all ages,” said Nagisa Manabe, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at the United States Postal Service. “And the timing is perfect. A postcard is a terrific way to send a holiday thank you.”
Since its launch in July 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants has emerged as a pop culture phenomenon. The series has been the most-watched animated program with kids 2-11 for more than 12 consecutive years, and over the past several years, it has averaged more than 100 million total viewers every quarter across all Nickelodeon networks. As the most widely distributed property in Viacom history, SpongeBob is seen in more than 170 countries and translated into more than 35 languages. The character-driven cartoon chronicles the nautical and sometimes nonsensical adventures of SpongeBob, an incurable optimist and earnest sea sponge, and his undersea friends.