Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Didja Know-The Parcel-Post Kid

Accounts vary as to where the 53-cents' worth of postage were affixed. Some say the stamps were pasted to a little suitcase sent along with preschooler May the day her parents mailed her to her grandmother. Others say they were glued to a tag attached to her coat, along with her granny's address.

May's parents, it seems, had discovered that it was cheaper to send her care of the U.S. mail than to pay the full fare the railroad demanded for children traveling alone. After all, at 48 1/2 pounds, May fell within the parcel post's 50-pound weight limit, and back in 1914 it was not, technically speaking, against the law to ship a child---as it would have been had they tried to send a live pig or a piece of Limburger cheese, since postal regulations barred most live animals, as well as articles that could be termed smelly. Baby chicks, however, were welcome, and that was how the postmaster decided to classify little May.

Off she went, tagged, stamped, and by all accounts perfectly content. She was driven to the train station, handed over to the baggage clerk, and on arrival , was taken directly to the post office and then to her grandmother, who pronounced the whole operation "as smooth as buttermilk." None the worse for wear, May lived to the ripe old age of 78 and died of natural causes.

Reader's Digest, "Keeping In Touch", Discovering America's Past, 1993, p 359.

11 comments:

Vicki said...

Wow, I didn't know they shipped kids back then, but it make sense. I could've shipped mine a few times...heehee, just kidding. I hated when my kids weren't home. :)

Anonymous said...

I've always thought that fact was stranger than fiction! You couldn't make that stuff up. Can you imagine, though, if you put it in a book, readers would go through the roof and say it's impossible!

Anna Small

Karen Lingefelt said...

This is hilarious, Gwyn! And Anna's right, of course.

Who among us, when we were kids, didn't dream of sticking a few stamps on a pesky younger sibling and shoving them into the mailbox?

Morgan Mandel said...

That's amazing. Wouldn't work today with all those laws about keeping track of your kids.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Katie Hines said...

That's pretty funny! I've thought about shipping my kids off for a day or two of peace, but not that way!

Helen Ginger said...

That was funny. Couldn't do it today, but there's something sweet about being able to do it once upon a time -- not so much mailing the kid as thinking that you could do it and the child would be safe.

Helen Ginger
http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

What a delightful story. Thanks for writing about it.

Shari
http://sharilyle-soffe.com

heidiwriter said...

Fascinating tidbit! Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to travel that way than on the airlines these days. Grin
Heidi

Fern J. Hill said...

Amazing. I love interesting tidbits like that. Thanks, Gwyn.

Fern J. Hill

Author of Charley's Choice: The Life
and Times of Charley Parkhurst a
fictional biography about a well-respected,
one-eyed stagecoach driver during the
California gold rush era who, upon death,
was found to be a woman and one-time mother.

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Bob Sanchez said...

I love it! When I was a young lad, mom told me she had been mailed off to relatives, but I always assumed she was joking. Maybe she wasn't.

Bob Sanchez
http://bobsanchez1.blogspot.com

conarnold said...

What a fun story that is! Thanks for sharing it, Gwyn!