Scraps: Going Postal
This scrap is made up mostly of an article about the price of a postage stamp. More specifically, it’s about a speech presented by the head of the letter carriers union expressing his hope that President Eisenhower “will have the courage” to raise the cost of a stamp…from three cents to four cents.
At first we might laugh at all this commotion over a penny, but then when you think about it that’s a cost increase of 33%, a sizable jump. Why, if they raised the price of a stamp today by the same percentage, it would jump from forty-nine cents to sixty-five cents. You’d be able to hear the caterwauling for miles. And I have to make a confession here. I had to look up the current price of a stamp. I was pretty sure it was still forty-six cents.
Another humorous aspect of this article is the less than subtle “baiting” of President Eisenhower, implying that if he doesn’t raise the price of a stamp by a penny he is somehow lacking in courage. Eisenhower, as Supreme Commander in Europe, seemed to have had enough courage in World War II to defeat Hitler, but apparently the thought of increasing the price of a stamp by a penny was enough to turn him into a quivering pile of Jell-O.
The price of a first-class postage stamp was eventually raised to four cents in 1958, somewhere near the middle of Ike’s second term. The cost of a stamp has increased steadily since then, with the accompanying and predictable cries of outrage each and every time. To me, though, the fact that I could put this old newspaper scrap into an envelope and have it hand-delivered to a friend three thousand miles away, for about the price of two slurps of a Starbuck’s Crappuccino, is remarkable.
Incidentally, just below the article about the cost of a stamp is a short article titled “Decides on Discretion.” It tells of a man who, while out hunting for squirrels, spotted a lion in the woods outside of Cincinnati. At first he decided he was going to go after it with his squirrel-hunting gun. After some thought, however, he changed his mind, ran home and called the police. There is no further information on the fate of the lion, if indeed there ever was one. The article does make it a point to mention, however, that the squirrel hunter had been deemed, “as sober as a judge.”