– by Karen Hampton –
(Editor’s note: When Karen told me the wonderful story that you are about to read, I asked her if I could share it with Legacy Connection readers. It first appeared on her blog, Rednecks Firefighters Life.)
The parents of Charlotte May Peirstorff decided it was time for their young daughter to make a visit to her grandmother’s home. They lived in Grangeville, Idaho, and grandma was 75 miles away in Lewiston. The railroad charged full rate for a child traveling alone. Her father felt that the fare was excessive for a child not yet 6 years old (though I could not discern just what the fare would have been).
The United Stares Post Office had instituted the use of parcel post effective January 1, 1913, a mere 13 months prior to this momentous occasion. So he traipsed on down to the post office to make inquiries. The limit for postal service was 50 pounds and Charlotte May came in at 48 1/2 pounds.The clerk did say that mailing a live hog was not allowed, nor was it legal to send a package of Limburger cheese or something else just as smelly. However, you could send live chicks by mail. Children were not specifically mentioned in the rules and regulations. It wasn’t disallowed; therefore it must have been allowed.
The decision was made.February 19, 1914, little Charlotte May was taken to the post office. Some said the 53 cents postage was attached to her coat, some said it was on a tag tied around the child’s wrist. However it was noted, she was duly delivered to the railroad and placed in the baggage car with the rest of the mail. It was said she exhibited perfect composure throughout the jaunt to Lewiston.
Once at the target depot, she was delivered to the post office. Later the postal clerk, Leonard Mochel, delivered her to her grandmother’s home, where the dear lady announced the trip went “as smooth as buttermilk.”
Evidently the powers that be later decided that this was not to be considered a regular service of the post office. Charlotte May lived to be 78 and died at her home in California in 1987. Ten years later she was officially designated to be the only person ever sent in the mail.
I googled for the information and found that today a 5 pound package could be sent for $7.98 cents. Therefore it would appear that a 50 pound package would cost about $79.80, if it is possible to send such a parcel. It’s too late for me to call the post office tonight and get specific information. Humm! Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.
Copyright 2013 by Karen Hampton. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Photo © Lane Erickson | Dreamstime.com.
Mary is the co-author of The Grandparent Connection: 365 Ways to Connect With Your Grandchild’s Heart.