In actual operation, it is expected that the parcel post will bring the factory and the farm into closer touch with the consumer, and that it may reduce the cost of living. The largest city and the most obscure hamlet alike will enjoy the advantages of the parcel post. It will be open to all on precisely equal terms.It was "the most gigantic transportation proposition ever undertaken by the government."
The service will extend over more than 1,435,000 miles of transportation lines, including 233,899 miles of railways, 164,399 miles of star routes, 29,283 miles of steamboat lines, and 1,007,772 miles of rural mail routes.The first package delivered by Parcel Post contained 11 pounds of apples, sent by the Woodrow Wilson Club of Princeton to the New Jersey governor and President-Elect at his home in Princeton. The delivery took three minutes.
The Cincinnati postmaster was inclined to doubt that fair postmistresses or a bevy of young women clerks in the home post office would look upon a crate of live mice as harmless. Also, Mr. Behymer appeared not to look with serenity upon the prospect some day of being obliged to "attend, water and feed various fowls and irritated livestock," as part of the daily postal routine.The regulations were again revised:
The evolution of the egg, he felt, was not so bad, explaining that first the parcel post handled crates of eggs, then the contents of the eggs after hatching, in the form of live chicks, only to be followed by fully grown chanticleers and domesticated motherly hens.
But when alligators and other gruesome creatures happen along in the usual run of business and, as was the case recently at an Ohio post office, escape from their crate and wallow about the office snapping broomsticks and otherwise giving vent to playful pranks until reduced to the official "harmless" stage, he declared it was about time to call a halt.
Harmless live animals, rated as inoffensive, and not requiring food or water in transit, may go by mail, along with baby terrapins, soft shell crabs, blood worms and chameleons. Under new regulations, live alligators up to 20 inches in length are the only live alligators Uncle Sam will handle.Eighteen months after the advent of Parcel Post, James Middleton assessed its impact:
In every American city and town, a constant line of people forms before a window labeled "Parcel Post;" they hand in their packages, have them weighed for postage and inspected for proper packing, and watch with contentment as the attendant throws them into a large receptacle, which, when full — and it fills with amazing speed — is wheeled off to the mailing department. Every city letter carrier shows evidences, in a somewhat more bulkily filled shoulder bag, of the new dispensation; and brightly painted "screen wagons" and automobiles, packed to capacity with miscellaneous bundles, are dashing through every city street. On every country road the wagon of the rural carrier, for many years yawning half vacant for an adequate load, has now found its occupation; in more remote recesses the lonely star route man, making his way over mountains and through forests on horse, mule, wagon, stagecoach, or even snow shoes, plays his part in advancing civilization.
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