Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky Place: Haunted Post Office

Paranormal Post Office?

Photo: San Pedro Post Office employees Brian Bundy, left, and Lance McCall stand along one of the hallways in the facility’s basement.

For many years, custodian Ed Nelson looked after the labyrinth of stairs and hallways in the grand old San Pedro, CA, Post Office. Although he no longer works here, employees still see him from time to time – and that would be fine, if it weren’t for the fact he passed away 28 years ago.

The facility’s General Clerk and historian, Brian Bundy, says that all San Pedro employees know about Mr. Nelson, and some think he’s still coming to work. Bundy himself has had some creepy close encounters.

Mr. Nelson was very attached to that building and took good care of it. Perhaps he still does.

Business Mail Acceptance Clerk Rosie Rivera worked with Ed Nelson, and was one of three co-workers that he left substantial amounts of money to after his death.

According to Rivera, Nelson never missed a day — until he passed away in 1983. Perhaps he’s also keeping his perfect attendance record intact.

For more on this story listen to the podcast available at

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Wraps

Happy Halloween!

Mail box wraps are a popular way to decorate.

What does it mean when a customer cares enough to decorate their box?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Benny's Mail Order Catalog

I was most honored to be inducted into the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame in 2004, for producing the first catalog, which sold scientific and academic books.

My catalog came with the first mail order guarantee: “Those persons who live remote, by sending their orders and money to B. Franklin may depend on the same justice as if present.” I wanted my customers to have complete trust in me.

I've come a long way to be Benny the Blogger now, and the mail order business has certainly come a long way too. According to a survey conducted at the Direct Marketing Association’s 2011 Conference & Exhibition, 80 percent of 231 attendees polled said they anticipate that their marketing budgets will increase in 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Smashing Pumpkins

It sounds like a good opportunity for the Postal Service to help with a key ingredient for pumpkin pie.

Mary Busey, an 80-year old woman form Anderson, GA, has been sending pumpkins through the mail to members of her family for 40 years. She doesn't package them. She just writes an address on the skin, affixs the postage and hands them to the window clerk.

Most of the orange beauty's are small -- one pound or so. But no doubt, they are met with incredulity as they pass through the system.

In those 40 years, just four of them have been damaged. That's a great track record.

Her tradition started in 1972, when her eldest daughter left for college. It continued when the other three left and has never stopped.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stamp prices throughout time

 I remember when....

Date                                        Price
1885                                        .02
1917                                        .03
1919                                        .02      
1932                                        .03
1958                                        .04
1963                                        .05
1968                                        .06
1970                                        President Nixon signs into law Postal Reorganization Act
1971                                        U.S. Postal Service begins operations
1971    May                             .08
1974    March                          .10
1975    December                    .13
1978    May                             .15
1981    March                          .18
1981    November                   .20
1982                                        Last year Postal Service accepted public service subsidy
1985    February                      .22
1988    April                            .25
1991    February                      .29      
1995    January                        .32
1999    January                        .33
2001    January                        .34
2002    June                             .37
2006    January                        .39
2007    April                            Forever Stamp goes on sale   
2007    May                             .41
2008    May                             .42
2009    May                             .44 
2012    Jan. 22                        .45

Friday, October 21, 2011

Stamp subject suggestion: Postal Employees

Peter Picard, who works at the Indian Orchard, MA, Post Office, recently Suggested that a commemorative stamp collection be produced to honor the people who move the mail -- clerks, carriers, mail handlers, maintenance workers, etc.

"This would give customers a better understanding of what is involved in getting their mail delivered."

There actually was a set issued before, but it could use some updating.

USPS has said that living subjects can now be used on stamps, so how about a different twist? You could be working next to the person who's face is on a billion stamps!

What do you think? Good idea? Any suggestions of postal employees to put on stamps?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mailbox Love

A couple of Denver Mailboxes have been vandalized, but it's not your typical work.

The "artist" has injected some humor, creating a little heavy metal love, according to Unseen Denver. The collection box is situated right next to a relay box and the grafitti insinuated a love relationship between the two.

Rightfully so, maintenance painted over the paint. But before long, the two were back.
"Missed you," said one Box. "Missed you, too," said the other.

Painted over again, new messages later appear. "They Can Never (Heart)" "Tear Us Apart (Heart)" the two announced.
What should our next step be? Encourage the love messages? Keep painting over them?
Comment here.
(Photos courtesy

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Amazon bypasses the mail, lets 7-11 deliver

Online retailer Amazon is testing a locker-based system at select 7-Eleven stores, according to The Daily.

The new system would allow an Amazon customer to choose a nearby 7-Eleven store for package pickup. A special online PIN would allow them to go to a locker inside the store, unlock the device and retrieve their parcel.

Image courtesy of Geekwire, John Cook.
The testing is going on in Seattle.

What do you think? A threat to USPS parcel delivery? Comment here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Save the species

Animal species are disappearing across the world and postal customers can do something to help save them.

Net proceeds from the sales of the Save Vanishing Species semipostal stamp will go to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support its Multinational Species Conservation Funds.

The Multinational Species Coalition — an alliance of 16 animal conservation groups with 15 million members representing conservationists, zoos, veterinarians, humane interests, circuses and sportsmen — has been created to support the funds designated by Congress. The Coalition also is committed to bringing greater attention to the semipostal stamp to help raise money for its cause.

Revenue from sales of the semipostal will be divided among the African Elephant Conservation Fund, the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund, the Great Ape Conservation Fund, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, and the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund.

The stamp is selling for 55 cents each — 11 cents more than a First-Class Mail stamp — and $11 for a sheet of 20. A Save Vanishing Species note card set of 10 blank note cards is also available and sells for $15.95.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The view from up there

In Oct. 2012 the U.S. Postal Service will celebrate the beauty and diversity of America's landscape as seen from above with the issuance of Earthscapes.

Looking down from window seats on airplanes, passengers may notice lines, circles, rectangles, and other shapes on the land. Depending on the season of the year, they may see areas of green, brown, or red. In winter, they might gaze out on miles and miles of white. Much depends on perspective, whether one’s view is straight down or from an angle, but almost any high place—a skyscraper or mountain, for example—can present viewers with stunning views and information about the Earth.

The stamp pane features fifteen stamps in three rows of five. The top row shows five examples of natural earthscapes. The middle row focuses on a wide range of agricultural earthscapes. The bottom row shows urban earthscapes.

The images are in the following categories:
    Glacier and icebergs - Alaska
    Volcanic crater: Washington, Mt. St. Helens
    Geothermal spring - Wyoming, Yellowstone Park
    Butte -- Utah, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
    Inland marsh - Maryland, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

    Salt evaporation ponds - California, San Francisco
    Log rafts on way to sawmill - Idaho
    Center-pivot irrigation - Kansas
    Cherry orchard - Wisconsin
    Cranberry - Massachusetts
    Residential subdivision - Las Vegas, NV
    Barge fleeting --- Houston, TX
    Railroad roundhouse -- Scranton, PA
    Skyscraper apartments -- New York, NY
     Highway interchange -- Miami, FL

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Postal Serve-hisssssss

Not to rattle you, but this rattlesnake was found in the lobby of the Lukeville, AZ, Post Office.

What's the strangest thing you've ever seen in a Post Office?
Comment here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Creating a cool Post Office?

You have to laugh at this skit by Conan O'Brian.

(Note: May not play on some postal computers, but forward this to your home e-mail. It's worth it.)

Do you think we will ever connect with younger people? What could we do?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Doing something about it

According to Ohiowa, NE, Postmaster Peggy Roit, "It only takes a spark to get a fire burning."

She was tired of the "hand-wringing, shaking of heads, and depressing prospects." So she decided to send a piece of First-Class mail every day for two weeks. Roit than encouraged her customers and fellow Postmasters to do the same.

Peggy Roit writes a letter
Scores of individuals have accepted this end of the year challenge. Individuals have responded in many creative ways.

She has seen a blaze of new interest. "I want to take us into the hall of flame," she said.

Share your story of how you are using the mail here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Post Office Bar and Grill

The Old Post Office in Fulton, MO, has been repurposed into the Post Office Bar and Grill.

What kind of postal-themed food should they serve?
Any creative drink names you can suggest?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Postal Vinyl: The very best songs about USPS

Record bin Roulette is a show that runs on KPLU, the Seattle National Public Radio outlet. Recently, they ran a show on great songs with postal themes.

The hosts, John Kessler and John Maynard, featured, Pat Boone, "Love Letters in the Sand," The Beatles, "When I'm 64," the Marvelettes, "Please Mr. Postman," and even a Seinfeld television skit.

To listen to the show, go here. (may not work on some postal computers)

What are your favorite, postal-themed songs? Chime in here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Greeting cards: There's an app for that

The Postal Service has partnered with Apple Inc. to develop a new product that lets consumers convert images from their camera into personalized mailpieces. Consumers will go to an Apple  website to create greeting cards which will be printed by a vendor, placed in envelopes and entered as presorted First-Class letter mailings.

The unique Permit Picture Sticker designed for the product launch has a heart image shaped like a paper airplane. It is printed in two different colors—yellow for domestic postage and blue for international.

This may introduce a whole new generation of people using greeting cards.

What do you think? Will this cut into traditional greeting cards, or simply add to the overall volume of greetings?  Comment here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Too much space? The OIG thinks so

A report by the Postal Service Inspector General thinks that out of our 284 million square feet, that 24 percent of it -- or about 67 million square feet -- is excess.

They believe significant revenue could be generated from this excess capacity.

The Postal Service disagrees with the calculations.

In your experience, what do you see? Are there unused floors, office space, or floor capactity that could be leased out or used to other companies? Could warehousing companies use our floor space? Could lawyers or mortage processors use some of our office space?  In your workplace, what do you see?

Comment here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Unique Combination

From Leavenworth, Washington.
Photo Credit: Josh Rupert.

Monday, October 3, 2011

On parade!

Lincolnville, KS, Postmaster Connie Johnson created a parade float at home that trumpted the Postal Service . She entered it in the Burdick, KS, Labor Day parade, which had as its theme, "Happy Birthday Kansas."

On one side was the Kansas State stamp. On the other, she had a board that was painted, “Save a Post Office, Write a Letter.”

It won the "Judge's Prize," for best float in the parade. 

She also took the float to Lincolnville, KS, Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday.