I really can’t remember which cereal or candy bar was behind the Pan Am plastic airplane mail-in give away promotion of my 1960 childhood years, but I do remember when my Pan Am airplane came in the mail. I think it was the first brand new toy I got in the mail. My name: Kerry Ryan on the small box. I held the plastic model airplane and embraced it’s possibilities, like staring down the long straight railroad tracks that ran parallel along US FLA Rt 1. Those never ending tracks and their promise of travel always intrigued me. All it took was a letter and some boxtops for the world to open up. The new Boeing Pan Am jet had a small crack in it when it arrived; of course it did, and that was a valuable lesson too. The plane was attached to a thin piece of sky blue cardboard speckled with hefty cumulus clouds. I saved it as a backdrop for my Barbies first flight. We were both flying.
As a young kid, I became obsessed with collecting stamp money to fuel my new mail order hobby. Bazooka Joe Bubble gum was my ticket to the adult postal world. The gum was a delicious pink sugar surge and came wrapped in a small comic printed on plastic coated paper. The comic strip told a funny story about Bazooka Joe and the gang. Every comic featured a toy, gadget or miscellaneous item that you could get by simply mailing in the required amount of comics and some change. The free telescope, for example, required you to mail 200 comics or 5 comics and forty cents, to Bazooka Joe headquarters in Minnesota, then wait. Once I gathered the bounty and found an envelope for this exchange, I mailed it. Then waited. The first few weeks, after a mailing, I checked the mail every day. As time went on, I checked less and less and eventually stopped checking. When I had completely forgotten about the telescope, it came. Those packages not only had a tangible gift, but they served to remind me that I could survive in this world, even though I was just a little kid. Getting mail as a little kid was exciting. Opening a card and reading the shaky handwriting of my “yankee” grandmother wishing me a happy birthday seemed like a relic from another era. The distinct cursive letters of old people testifying to a slower time; a time I wanted to travel to. A well hand-written card, an obscure gift pulled from my mailbox, still provides a sense of wonder today. It is an act of recognition. I exist. I am here, and the mail carrier knows it.
As an adult, I love getting mail and mailing things, perhaps for some of those same validations. I collect small boxes or tins to mail items in. Once, I wrapped a plump cherry tomato with a picture perfect stem in a scrap of burgundy velvet, put it in a small ring box, and mailed it to a friend. She wrote back telling me that the tomato was delicious and in turn she filled the very small box with antique pearl buttons. Getting mail, using clotheslines, and gazing down endless train tracks can all serve as reminders for us to take a minute; that good things come to those who wait. We know the mail will come. It is as dependable as described by the Postman’s Oath we have come to believe, “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Sadly, this dependable, and romantic for some, government service is under attack. There is a systematic campaign to discredit it’s reliability in order to suspend the decades long standing practice of mail in voting. It is common knowledge that when more people vote, Democrats win. Our current President has agreed claiming, “Mail in voting doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” Discrediting the postal service is a new low in a long list of voter suppression practices supported by the Republican party. Like all propaganda campaigns, it requires the work and actions of informed citizens to counteract this bogus message. I have good news, this work isn’t hard. You don’t have to ask people for money, you don’t have to go door to door, you don’t have to talk to anyone face to face or on the phone. Is this the kind of civil action you can participate in? We need you.
Your vote for Biden and Harris in November is crucial, but it is not enough. Please pick at least one more thing to do to ensure that our country gets back on track and our mail continues it’s dependable service.
THIS WILL BE THE EASIEST CIVIL ACTION YOU CAN DO!
Use the US Mail
Mail thank you notes
Send silly things to make your pals smile
Buy stamps, stationary, envelopes
Thank your mail carriers
Write love letters
Get your Mail-in Ballot- In these unpredictable Covid times, you want to be prepared
Join 76,000 other grassroots volunteers from every state in writing postcards to voters by visiting Postcard to Voters
Currently, I am waiting for my assignment from Postcards to Voters. While I wait, I search the garden for the perfect prickly cucumber to mail.