Friday, December 05, 2008

Then There Was The 2-Cent Stamp

A friend gave me something to read and I returned it in an envelope, carefully tucking in the flap. I don’t know why I did; just did. No particular reason. But it reminded me of the second-class letter. First class was three cents, sealed; second class was two cents, with the flap in, unsealed.

I haven’t thought about that in years. Second-class mail was common when I was a whole lot younger than I am now, and a penny was worth a whole lot more than it is now. It was slower than first-class and “got there when it got there,” but lots of mail wasn’t that important and, besides, you got two deliveries a day.

Two a day? Yeah; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The mailman came twice; at least, where we lived and I suspect elsewhere, as well. You could depend on the first-class being delivered overnight, if not the same day within the town, and the second-class caught up when its more important big brother cleared the Post Office.

Didn’t have a two-cent stamp? You could use four half-cent Franklins. I remember them: they were bright orange. Why anybody needed half-cent stamps is beyond me, but apparently they were hot stuff at one time.

Got something really important for someone? Special Delivery was the way to go. Airmail Special Delivery was so quick that someone even wrote a song with that name and if you wanted it sent by air, it cost more with a special stamp.