Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Letter's long journey ends, mystery begins.

Somewhat in the same category as my "Time in a bottle" post from a couple of years ago, here is an item from today's Boston Globe on a piece of mail that has finally reached its destination after sixty-six years in postal limbo:
If it were actual snail mail, it would have gotten there 10 times faster.

A letter mailed from Hyde Park, N.Y., in 1945 arrived in Gloucester last week, long after its intended recipient, a Mrs. S.E. Lawrence, had died. A common garden snail could have made the 173-mile journey in 6 1/2 years. Instead it took 66.

Where has it been all these years? That remains a mystery. Among the few things postal officials know is that it appeared Saturday, when carrier James Patrick picked from the day’s batch of mail a slightly yellowed envelope, with a hand-typed address and four ornate one-cent stamps.

"When you see stamps like that, and type-written, you know something’s different," said Richard Tansey, officer in charge of the Greater Boston Postal District.

The letter’s nearly seven-decade odyssey is being puzzled out by most everyone who has come in contact with it. Dennis Tarmey, a spokesman for the Greater Boston Postal District, said that it may have been lost in postal equipment or fallen into a sorting machine — which is often the case with letters that take decades to deliver — but added that that theory is pure speculation.

Tansey said a postmark on the back of the envelope indicates that it appeared in Seattle this month. "It seems to me that somebody had it for a long time and put it in the mail," he said. "Maybe it ended up in an estate sale. Who knows?"

The letter, which the carrier brought to the Annisquam Historical Society before the Gloucester Post Office took it back yesterday, is what is known as a First Day Cover — when a new stamp is issued, collectors celebrate by gathering at the place it is issued and having it postmarked on the first day. In this case, it was a one-cent stamp to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued from and featuring his Springwood estate, shortly after his death. The "cover" is a collector’s term for an envelope.

. . .

[Two observers] theorized that Lawrence — who lived at 123 Leonard St. — was a stamp collector who had a friend mail her the letter, or mailed it to herself from the event.

"But how did it get lost all those years?" asked Tom O’Keefe, curator of the Annisquam Historical Society. "Did it go to Gloucester, England? We’ll never know."
To read the rest, click here. AMDG.


Post a Comment

<< Home