There was a time when, if you lived in Spokane, Bing Crosby might have sold you stamps across a post office counter. If you lived in Chicago, Walt Disney might have delivered your mail – or maybe Rock Hudson, if you were just up the road in nearby Winnetka. More recently, before he starred in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Steve Carell might have put letters in your mailbox if it was in rural Massachusetts. And have you ever wondered where the Grammy-winning John Prine got the title for his album The Singing Mailman Delivers?
Yes, most everyone knows Ben Franklin and Abe Lincoln were once postal employees. But a fair amount of other famous people have had the U.S. Postal Service on their resumes at one time or another. You can find a list of them in the Postal Service’s publication on its history and in the 2016 book Neither Rain nor Snow: A History of the United States Postal Service. We thought it appropriate to acknowledge their largely unknown postal employment on this day honoring labor.
Some, like Disney, had fond memories of their postal days. Others, like William Faulkner, did not. The author of classics like The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying spent 3 years as postmaster at the University of Mississippi “until he was forced to resign in 1924 for his obvious disinterest,” according to Neither Rain nor Snow. “A postal inspector furnished him with a long list of his transgressions, which included treating patrons rudely, failing to forward mail, and writing the greater part of one of his books while he was on duty. 'I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.' Faulkner wrote in his letter of resignation.”
On this Labor Day, we recognize the short-timers, the long-timers, and all postal workers. Tell us about your experience. Are you from a family of postal workers? How many years have you served? What is unique about the job?