Illustrations by Edward Ardizzone from Back to the Local (1949) by Maurice Gorham, a loving memoir about English public houses (pubs). An earlier volume, The Local, came out just as World War II was starting. The publisher’s building was bombed out in the Blitz; all of the plates and unsold copies of The Local were lost. So, after the war, Gorham and Ardizzone wrote and illustrated the book again, from scratch, and called it Back to the Local.
From “The Railway Post Office,” June, 1926
“When one of us caught measles or whooping cough and we were isolated in bed upstairs, we wrote notes to each other perhaps on the hour. Our devoted mother would pass them for us, after first running them in a hot oven to kill the germs. They came into our hands curled up and warm, sometimes scorched, like toast.”
— Eudora Welty in One Writer’s Beginnings (1983)
In 1912, the U.S. Postal Department introduced parcel post service for items 16 ounces or more. Almost anything could be sent via parcel post, including baby chicks, alligators and honeybees. Rural Americans used the new service to buy goods they could not get before, giving rise to mail order giants like Sears, Roebuck & Co. Twelve denominations were issued, all using the same border and color, which caused some confusion for postal workers. Less than a year later, ordinary postage was allowed for use on parcel post. These stamps were then used as regular postage until the supply was depleted.