Off the Scale and Into the Box, to Grandmother’s House We Go

Okay, okay, so I haven’t posted on this blog in something like a month. And yes, I am aware that there are dire consequences to such neglect. I know very well that if I am not posting, then no one can be reading and if no one is reading, then no one is talking about what I am posting, and if no one is talking about what I am posting then I will never reach the gazillion readers that might provide me with a large enough platform for a traditional publisher to consider taking a risk on publishing my novel that approximately .000001% of my blog followers will someday check out from the library.

I’m not complaining. The industry is what it is and I suppose it might be fair to say either I want to play or I don’t. Except that I do, most of the time. And other times, like over the course of the last month, I don’t. You could say I am taking an extended break. And, yes, I do mean “taking” because I probably won’t post again for something like a month. The reason for this is simple.

 My sons are 8 and 5 and they never will be ever again. In fact, my five-year-old is planning to turn six in the next couple weeks, and I’m going to have to let him. So while they are eight and five (almost six), I would really like their summer vacation experiences to include a mother who is available to read a book with them, or play a board game with them, or throw a ball with them. What I don’t particularly want their summer to include is a mother who is shoeing them away so she can read just one more blog, or research just one more post.

In fact, I am only sharing this one because I have shipped my children off for a couple days at Grandma’s house. Obviously I don’t mean that I literally shipped them since the US Postal Service declared back in1920 that it would no longer accept children as parcel post. And, yes, like all regulations (and safety warnings) that appear a little unnecessarily ridiculous, someone actually did it.

U.S. Mail Storage Box
But it looks so child friendly.

All 5-year-old Charlotte May Pierstorff of Grangeville, Idaho wanted to do was visit her grandmother who lived just 75 miles away in Lewiston, Idaho. Of course this was 1914 and so simply hopping in the family minivan and heading an hour or so down highway 95 wasn’t an option yet. The only good route across the fairly treacherous landscape was to take a train, an expensive proposition for the Pierstorff family.

Little May’s parents were poor, but they were also clever (or desperate for a date night).  They did what any caring parents would do. They pasted a postage stamp on their young daughter and dropped her in the mail. And at the time, they were completely within the law to do it.

The US Postal Service had begun offering domestic parcel post service in January of 1913 and while there were restrictions on poisons and certain types of live animals (smelly ones), there weren’t any regulations specifically prohibiting the mailing of people. Little May weighed in at 48 ½ pounds, just under the maximum allowable weight for a live chicken, which, it seems, was good enough for the Grangeville Postmaster.

Chicken Suit
And what grandma wouldn’t be delighted to receive this in the mail?

Mail clerk Leonard Mochel (a cousin of May’s mother, which makes the story a little less disturbing) took charge of the world’s largest chicken and saw her safely to her grandmother’s house in Lewiston. As a package, May’s train fare was only 53 cents, about a third of what she would have paid as a passenger.

May Pierstorff was likely the first child to travel by mail, but despite an outcry from postal employees, she was certainly not the last. Finally on June 13, 1920, the USPS announced that it could no longer accept children as parcel post, as children were clearly not “harmless live animals which do not require food or water while in transit.”

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...
Just think of the mess my children could make of this back seat.

Having just driven my children the two hours to Grandma’s house in a car packed with snacks,  I have to agree with the USPS on this one. Children are most definitely not harmless (and they can be a little smelly). And believe me, despite my very noble sounding rationale for my lengthy absence from the blogosphere, I don’t think it will win me a Mother-Of-The-Year award any time soon. My kiddos still irritate me and there are days when I find myself wishing they would just hurry and grow up a little already. I still snap at them occasionally, or let myself get too distracted to listen to them tell me about their latest imaginary adventure. I may even wish from time to time that I could drop them in the mail and ship them off to family members who are less tired and can recognize how wonderfully adorable my children really are.

I have missed and will continue to miss blogging regularly because I have had the pleasure to virtually meet some really interesting people out there in the blogosphere. And I am fairly certain that there are at least a gazillion more really interesting people waiting to be virtually met. But that will have to wait a little while longer because next summer, I will be the mother of sons who are nine and six (nearly seven), and though I’m sure they will still be occasionally irritating (and smelly), they won’t ever again be the same as they are right now.

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10 thoughts on “Off the Scale and Into the Box, to Grandmother’s House We Go

  1. amyrumney

    Love it! I’m a little concerned that the maximum weight allowance for a chicken is over 48 lbs… How big did they GROW chickens back then??!!

    1. According to Guinness, the current record for chicken weight is 23 lbs 3 oz. Of course Guinness World Records has only been around since the mid 1950’s, so perhaps they should have consulted with the USPS before making such a ridiculous claim.

  2. Erika

    Good for you, Sarah! I’m in the same boat with the love-the-work-and- the-kids dilemma. Always eager to read a post from you. I can still sell (or mail) my kids to the gypsies in another five minutes, right?

    1. I suspect that selling the kids is also illegal, but I guess I’d have to check on that. Motherhood is such a funny thing. It’s great to get away from the kids, even necessary sometimes because they drive you absolutely insane, but as soon as they’re gone, you miss them and can’t think of anything else.

      1. So would I. If your book is anything like your blog posts I would read it!

        Also woe to the person who met up with 48 lb. chicken. That’s downright scary.

I love comments! Please keep them PG, though. I blush easily.

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