heritage mail

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Its Black history month and while I understand the value of this designation I wish Black history was not annexed to one month of the year but rather, more fully integrated in to how children learn American history. Heritage Box is a subscription service that teaches children Black history year round by delivering monthly, customized care packages with Black history and African geography materials! Books, games, toys, family activities- these packages could be a valuable addition to a child’s understanding and interest in their African heritage.

human mail

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My sister sent me these photos with this caption:

In 1913 it was legal to mail children. With stamps attached to their clothing, children rode trains to their destinations, accompanied by letter carriers. One newspaper reported it cost fifty-three cents for parents to mail their daughter to her grandparents for a family visit. As news stories and photos popped up around the country, it didn’t take long to get a law on the books making it illegal to send children through the mail.

That may be true but according to Snopes.com these photos are staged. However there is a great children’s book called Mailing May that is apparently based on a true story. Set in 1914, A little girl travels by postal train to visit her grandmother. Much cheaper than buying a regular train ticket!

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metamorphosis mail

Last week my family received live caterpillars in the mail as a spring gift from my mom! That was a first. Two plastic cups with lids arrived in a small cardboard box. Inside were tiny little black caterpillars and some brown food that we decided to call “pudding”. We designed an environment for our new pets to inspire them to grow.

caterpillersAnd grow they did! They ate a lot of pudding and within a week were huge and starting to transition into their chrysalides.

transitioningThis guy actually transitioned before our very eyes! It was fascinating and also a little gross- from black and fuzzy to smooth and brown in a matter of minutes. I loved every second of it.

chrysalidesNow we wait. In a few days we’ll transfer the chrysalides to a net habitat and a week after that, butterflies will emerge! When their wings are strong, we’ll release them in our garden.

We have loved this experience. If you want to give it a try visit Insect Lore; The Original Butterflies by Mail Company.

Viva Metamorphosis!

reply all mail

reply all mail

Last month my sister sent an email to the family with a link about terrible candies made in Boston, our hometown, including Necco wafers. We all remember walking past the Necco factory in Central Square in Cambridge and smelling delicious artificial flavors but apparently not everyone has such positive associations. Frankly, they are unpopular. My own daughter handed a just sampled mini pack to me on Halloween and said, “I don’t like these.”

I took 4 mini Necco wafer packs from a generous neighbor when we were trick or treating and mailed them to my mom and 3 sisters, along with the anecdote about my daughter’s Necco wafer rejection. Since you can’t send mini Necco wafer packs via email (yet) I opted for analog Reply All packages. All 4 were as identical as the human hand can muster. It was an email/paper mail hybrid, following up on fun, group experienced email content with a handmade, paper mail delivery system. Best of both worlds.

inverted mail

I just received a package from my sister Hope with the Inverted Jenny stamps as postage.

Her enclosed note reads:

As soon as I saw these re-issued Inverted Jenny stamps at the post office, I knew I had to use them to send you some inverted mail. But how do you invert the mail? Answer: mail the negatives from pictures of people hanging upside down.

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I love when there is a relationship between paper mail’s postage and content. And Hope’s concept made me laugh! Inverted on many levels, she even wrote my name upside down on the package! And her card featured a reverse panda, with white rings around its eyes!

I challenge you to buy some Inverted Jenny stamps, and send some inverted mail of your own invention.

 

white house mail

These days I would not wish President Obama’s job on anyone, including President Obama. What an intense and awful summer it has been for the guy. Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Furguson, MO, Washington, DC. Oy vey. That’s why I found it particularly sweet when 2 participants in one of my summer Make Mail! workshops made beautiful and elaborate letter collages for the President. While we know that Obama has a committed paper correspondence practice and excellent handwriting, he did not personally write back this time. However a package from the White House with photos of the First Family was still a thrill to receive. Viva Snail Mail!

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Summer camp mail

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,

As a kid I mostly went to day camp but I was fortunate enough to also go to sleep away camp a few times at Camp Asto Wamah. It was idyllic. I recall tetherball, archery, swim classes in a beautiful lake where we had to turn our jeans in to a flotation device while treading water, and piles of white bread on the mess hall dinner tables, which was a novelty for this hippy child.

I also remember mail delivery as a big event in the day. And my sweet parents obliged with postcards, letters, and care packages. Inspired by this fond memory, I am proposing a give away. I will send a summer camp for grown ups care package to the first 2 people to email me an anecdote about summer camp mail.  Extra candy if you include a scan of some original correspondence!

Send your entry to melissa@vivasnailmail.com.

College Mail

By way of social media I learned that Jason Uechi, a fellow alum of Hampshire College, was encouraging people to send mail to their old college post office boxes. Of course I lit up at this idea. I immediately found this ‘so terrible its good’ postcard of Hampshire from my collection and sent it off.

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Uechi was inspired by the care packages he used to receive in college from family back in Hawaii, filled with items that he couldn’t get on the East Coast. Recently he started sending treats back to his parents and somehow made the leap to mailing something to the current occupant of the po box where he received all those much loved care packages back in the 1980’s. He put the word out on Facebook to other alums and the response was enthusiastic.
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I’m guessing that the p.o. box is far less important for college students these days, what with all the instant methods of connecting with the world beyond campus. For me, pre internet and pre cell phone and on financial aid, mail was a real link to my friends and family and much cheaper than making long distance phone calls. I love that Uechi’s idea reactivates the p.o. box as a place of surprise, connection, and chocolate.