Friday, July 15, 2016

Neither Snow Nor Rain by Devin Leonard

    • Neither Snow Nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service by Devin Leonard
    • Published May 3, 2016
    • First book by the author.

    • Starting in the 1700s, this is the history of our country's postal service with all the glories and the hiccups that entails.

    • My grandfather worked for the USPS for many years, including a stint in the U.S. Navy as a postal clerk during World War II. He was in his late 30s at the time and my mother had memories of traveling to San Francisco to visit her dad with her mom and brothers in 1945.
    • The post office processes billions of pieces of mail for a reasonably inexpensive charge. For just 47 cents you can have a letter delivered in about 1-3 days anywhere in the United States. That seems kind of remarkable if you really think about it.
    • As the history moves through time you also learn about the other ways parcels are delivered (Fedex, Pony Express, DHL, etc...) and how those companies filled a niche.
    • New technologies were used by the Postal Service and the chapter about the use of airplanes in the 1910s was very interesting. It was not a safe job in those days.
    • Management positions used to be given on the basis of which party was in office at any given time. Republicans came in and you got all new bosses as a reward for their support during campaigns. Then the Democrats came in and it was their turn to hand out plum positions. The rank-and-file employees were basically the same group.
    • Stamp collecting was very popular and got a boost because Franklin Roosevelt was a collector too.
    • You used to be able to have savings accounts at the post office! This stopped in the 1960s but there is talk of bringing them back at some point.
    • The book is quite interesting but had one egregious error: that "Cheers" a TV comedy that featured a mailman character (Cliff Clavin) was on CBS. It was on NBC. The other mailman character on NBC was Newman on "Seinfeld". 
    • "Going postal" is still shorthand for a workplace shooting due to several major incidents beginning in the 1980s.
    • Sorry, there are just so many fun little facts and stories in this book. Recommended for those who like U.S. history.