The U.S. Postal Service Buzz

The latest word from the United States Postal Service, is that as of August 2013, Saturday letter delivery will cease. Packages will still be delivered on Saturdays and post offices will remain open. In the meantime, post offices continue to close and processing facilities will close, too; thus, staff will be reduced. The reason? The US Postal Service has been operating on a $15.9 billion deficit since last year. They have to reduce that deficit somehow. And with the rise in online bill paying and electronic communication, the postal service simply isn’t what it used to be.

Preservationists, what do you think? So we won’t be getting letters on Saturday. It’s not really a big since the post offices will remain open, which is probably a day that many of us go to the post office. Most of us probably send significantly more electronic messages than snail mail letters, right?  Will we mourn the loss of six day mail delivery, or adjust with the modern times?  In the 1900s-1940s, the mail at Overhills, NC was delivered by train to the post office, which sat adjacent to the tracks. In later years, the post office relocated to another building and trucks delivered the mail. The post office has evolved, just like everything else, however its existence depends on the quantities of mail that we send, which continues to decline.

Jumping to the modern era, do you use email, Facebook, or text messages more than the other? Do you miss the days of emails instead of Facebook messages? (I prefer email over Facebook.) Do you miss the days of instant messenger or do you prefer text messages? Technology continues to change and we all change with it. What will be the fate of the US Postal Service in 100 years?  I would say it depends on what we do as a society.

The issue that remains is the effect that closing small and/or rural post offices will have on our communities. In some towns, there is little more than a post office and a town office in terms of public buildings. Having an individual zip code is important for the identity of towns. In some places, like Ripton, VT, the post office is in a country store. This topic of conversation about post offices came up on PiP back in August 2011. A PiP post from July 2012 talked about the types of buildings in which post offices are located.

 

The Ripton Country Store located in Ripton, VT.

The Ripton Country Store located in Ripton, VT. (Preservation Photos #53)

What’s your mail preference? What do you think about no more letter delivery on Saturday? What about the closing of small post offices?

Blog Update: A Series Page

A Preservation in Pink blog update: now when you visit the site there is a new page for better blog organization. Visit the “Series” page (click on the top menu) and you’ll be able to browse through the past and present series featured on Preservation in Pink, from Preservation ABCs to Preservation Basics and more.

Hopefully readers find this useful. It’s all part of the 2013 goal to make PiP more searchable and accessible, and to share the many topics discussed over the years. More improvements are on the way. Thanks for reading!

Giant Strides on the Playgrounds

The giant stride is a long-since-removed playground apparatus that dates from early 1900s. Simply put, it was a tall pole with ropes/ladders attached to it. Children could grab hold of the handles and run in circles, so fast that their feet would leave the ground. For safety reasons, it was mostly removed from playgrounds by the 1960s, though some remain.

Another Giant Stride - at a playground in New York City, ca. 1910-1915. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division (click).

Another Giant Stride – at a playground in New York City, ca. 1910-1915. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division (click).

In graduate school I researched the manufacturing and development of the giant stride, and was fortunate to find a few images of giant strides. I’m jumping back into that research. Readers, have you come across any giant strides or remnants of giant strides? If so, would be willing to share those photographs? If so, please let me know. Your help would be very much appreciated. Here’s what one might look like today:

A giant stride on a Colorado playground. Click for original source.

A giant stride on a Colorado playground. Click for original source.

Previous playground posts on PiP:Playgrounds of YesterdayPreservation Photos #25Woodford PlaygroundPlaygroundsPreservation Photos #57.

Schoolhouses for Laura

In honor of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday – February 7, 1867 – here is a collection of schoolhouses from around the United States. Here are some of Laura’s houses in South Dakota & Kansas & Missouri, the Ingalls Homestead in South Dakota and in Wisconsin.

Laura Ingalls remains one of my favorite authors and historical figures. Happy Birthday, Laura.

sweetsimple

Preservation Photos #168

An abandoned house in rural Vermont.

An abandoned house in rural Vermont, mostly trashed on the interior reveals pocket doors with Greek Revival details.

Abandoned Vermont: Barre House

Abandoned for what looks like decades, this house is long gone, looking even worse on the interior than it does on the exterior. The interior, sadly, has been destroyed, missing floors, walls, joists, everything. But this house remains a story sitting on the sunny hillside down a dirt road. At one point, people lived here and loved this house.

An Italianate style house.

An Italianate style house.

The frame of an outbuilding remains.

The frame of an outbuilding remains.

Closer view. You can see the windows were once boarded up, but now have mostly been removed.

Closer view. You can see the windows were once boarded up, but now have mostly been removed.

A small porch.

A small porch. Note how the coat of paint stops above the porch nearest the eaves, as though no one could reach there.

Some paint here, some paint there.

Some paint here, some paint there. And the glass is no more in most of the windows.

Completely open.

Weathered and partially painted.

Aside from being completely destroyed on the inside, the exterior clapboard has been removed in places.

Aside from being completely destroyed on the inside, the exterior clapboard has been removed in places.

And that is one reason why we document: to remember, to see the potential, to hope we can prevent this from happening to other abandoned or neglected homes.

Winter Entrances

January thaw, you were nice while you were here in Vermont. Now we welcome February and the returning cold, snowy weather. Speaking of cold, opening an exterior door in the winter can rush in waves of freezing weather aside from the snow our boots track in the doors. In these cold climate states, winter is beautiful but often messy. Living in Vermont I’ve noticed exterior winter preparations that I haven’t seen elsewhere, whether New York or North Carolina. Most of us remove screens, put on or pull down storm windows, turn off the outside faucets, bring in fair weather plants, add water hog mats at our fronts doors, and keep shovels at hand.

Montpelier, VT. The entire hooded entrance is removed in the warm weather.

Montpelier, VT. The entire hooded entrance is removed in the warm weather. The fanlight and sidelights of the entrance match those on this historic building. Historic integrity remains intact.

In Vermont, winter preparations go to another level. Lately I’ve noticed that many buildings have temporary winter entrance enclosures (see above). Rather than an open porch, a hooded, walled entrance can be installed on a building. This will provide energy savings, as well allow for less cleaning – take those boots off at the entrance! The Montpelier entrance is a good example of preserving historic integrity, even in the cold weather. Perhaps a good suggestion for residences and businesses. Have you seen any winter entrances where you live? Or other winter preparations?

Middlebury, Vermont

Middlebury, VT. This actually is on the building year round, but it reminded me of the Montpelier example. Anyone from Middlebury? How is this different than it used to be? (This is not a quiz; it’s actually a question.)