I just heard ‘It came in the morning mail’ on a 1960s U.S. TV show. I’ve never experienced mail delivery more than once a day in my life. Was there a time when there would be a morning mail delivery, followed by one or more later deliveries (e.g., afternoon and/or evening)? If so, when?
I’ve read that in London of the Sherlock Holmes era, say 1885 to the turn of the century, mail was delivered hourly during business hours.
In my lifetime, the City of London certainly had four a day.
In the 70s I was living in a pub in the country in Cornwall. For anyone who doesn’t know, Cornwall is the bit at the bottom left of England, and is generally rural. Our pub was in a small seaside village.
The postman came round in his van mid morning. We would leave letters and cash in the front porch and he would stick the stamps on for us, and put them in the system. Any letter further on in his round would get delivered and the stamp cancelled with his blue pencil.
One day we had a friend staying with us who sent a letter to his solicitor in London. It was collected at about 10am and he had a reply 24 hours later. The letter would have been in time to catch the express train to London. It was sorted en route and delivered at about 4pm. The solicitor wrote his answer on the back of the letter and mailed it on his way home. All for something like 20p (30 cents?) each way.
Wikipedia says that in the 1800s in the USA:
We only had one delivery, but we lived in a small town. US cities usually had a morning and afternoon mail and it wasn’t fully eliminated until the 1990s… Here’s a brief history.
Even in the US, into the 1960s, there were multiple deliveries each day. A big reason for this was that the postman was, for the most, part, walking with a mailbag over his shoulder. The weight limit was something like fifty pounds. Without a second (or third) delivery, the bag would be too heavy.
Sometimes, one simply makes excellent connections at every stop on the route. In 1970s NJ, a relative of mine paid a bill by check, putting it in the mailbox on a Friday. He got that same check back, together with all his other paid checks for the month, in his regular bank statement in the following Monday’s mail. Approximately 72 hours over the weekend, for the other party to receive the check, deposit it, have the check go through the banking system, become part of the monthly statement, get mailed back my relative, and be delivered.
I don’t remember it myself, being way too young for that, but I have a nerdy interest in the history of communications, and I’ve repeatedly read that in major European and North American cities, multiple deliveries per day were common, up to something like eight or nine each day in the metropolises. This was at a time when physical mail was the primary means of communication - long-distance phone calls or telegrams were either unavailable or prohibitively expensive for longer messages, so there was a demand for speed in mail delivery. It was not uncommon to receive a reply on the very same day as a letter was posted.
Obviously, this need for speedy deliveries is not present any more - urgent stuff is sent by other means nowadays, so that which is still sent through physical mail can wait a little longer.
I don’t see how this would, by itself, require multiple deliveries each day. The postman could just as well reduce the size of the area he’d cover with each round and do two or three rounds a day, but still serve each household only once.
My grandmother, born in 1904, used to tell me stories of her life growing up, and in one of them she mentioned 2x/day mail deliveries. As a kid, that floored me. She lived in Philadelphia most of her life.
In the UK we only lost the second delivery a few years ago. It was largely composed of mail from the extremities of the system that had not arrived on the overnight train but came in late bags, and local mail posted that morning and collected and sorted immediately. You could wrote a local letter at ten am and it would be delivered between 12 and three. All gone now and only one delivery a day between 8am and 4 pm.
The SO loves her English costumer dramas, so I’ve heard of this. I almost included it in the OP, but I didn’t want people to think I was not in the U.S.
This makes sense; though when I was little we only had one delivery per day. IIRC, the postman parked at the end of the block and hauled his leather bag to each house. If I’ve just counted correctly, there are 98 houses. (It’s a long U-shape with cul-de-sacs on the outside, with a central ‘island’ with two rows of houses.)
Recently I had 2 of them in a day, I asked the letter carrier about it. It seems like they were late with getting the mail to be delivered so they had someone come around early to pick up mail, and perhaps place some of the mail in the boxes but I didn’t get that far in questioning, as I was wondering what happened to my outgoing mail when the letter carrier arrived and it was already gone.
Though this ‘double round’ is not normal.
Ditto. I’m guessing that the main impetus was not the weight of the mailbag, but that the lack of the now-ubiquitous telephone meant that frequent mail delivery was critical for speedy communications.
Back in the early 60’s, outside a small Indiana town, we got mail delivery twice a day, and the mailman drove a mail van.
Suburban Dallas in the late 1950’s. Mail twice a day in a residential neighborhood.
We also had milk delivered and got both a morning and evening newspaper.
As an aside, I read a science fiction story once where the protagonist notices that mail seems to arrive quicker the further you send it, and on a lark addresses a letter to the Postmaster General of alpha Centauri. He gets a reply back stating that discovery of the FTL mail system is the prerequisite to joining the interstellar community, and a welcome to the newly-joined people of Earth.
They probably don’t have the infrastructure or money for it now but it seems like twice daily mail would be pretty nice. If I could mail things in town and know they’d arrive the same day, I’d actually use the mail.
We wouldn’t have thought too much less of you.
‘We couldn’t have!’, right?
As an interesting (i.e. ‘frustrating’) contrast, here in the San Juans (Johnny LA will dig this) our mail delivery is once a day like most areas of the country. The problem is that since 9/11 our mailing procedures have changed dramatically. Outgoing mail to places I can see from the hill behind our house (or to the next door neighbor) can take days to go through the process - all mail (local and distant) is shipped to a regional center for security reasons and then the local mail wends it’s way back to our islands.
The frustration factor kicks in when mail to the East Coast arrives there in 2-3 days but incoming mail…not so much. Phone conversation: “We sent you the appointment notice a week ahead of time. Your scheduled appointment was at 8:00 AM. Why did you ignore it and not respond?” “Uh…this was a letter, right?” “Yes, of course it was.” Exasperated excuses and official condescension ensue. Two days later, official letter finally arrives in mail box. :smack:
We love our little island, but sometimes communicating with ‘America’ is difficult.