When gold was discovered there in 1848, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the area that would a couple years later become state of California. Some struck it rich right away. For some it took a little longer. Still others became wait staff and went to endless auditions only to get a few bit parts in a commercial here or there.
There can be little doubt that this is when the California dream began to become a reality. And man, what a dream. Except that there was one glaring problem: brownies.
Because if you happened to be the super hip aunt of a couple of bright young gold miners on the adventures of their lives, pursuing bright futures, it was hard to send said youngsters care packages full of homemade brownies all the way from Missouri to California.
Most mail to the state traveled by boat, taking about two months to make the trek. The only other option for sending care packages was by a southern stagecoach route, which took somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-four days. I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten brownies that were made from scratch twenty-four days ago, but I’m pretty sure if you have, it was a mistake.
Enter 1860, with a relatively new state, more or less disconnected from a country on the brink of civil war. Communication was an issue and luckily three men in the freighter business had a solution. William H. Russell, Alexander Majors, and William B. Waddell introduced the Pony Express, a relay system in which swift and brave young horsemen carried mail between Missouri and California, making the trek in a previously unheard of ten days.
The first delivery arrived in Sacramento on April 14, 1860, having started out in St. Joseph, Missouri on the 3rd. Changing horses every 10 to 15 miles, and riders every 75 to 100, this first trip transported 49 letters, 5 telegrams, and a handful of papers bound for intermediate destinations.
But still no brownies. Because even ten days is a long time to ask fresh brownies to say, well, fresh. And because the nature of the Express was such that weight was a huge consideration, a bulky box of brownies still had no good way to travel from here to there. Not to mention, the brave young horsemen probably got hungry.
Which brings me to my dilemma. You see, I am a super hip aunt of a couple of bright young people on the adventures of their lives, pursuing bright futures away from home at college. And for the past several years, I have been pretty good about sending care packages to each of them at least once a semester.
As my own children keep reminding me, this semester is nearly over. Soon the last projects and papers will be turned in, finals will be taken, grades will be calculated, and if I don’t get on it pretty quickly, no homemade brownies from super hip Aunt Sarah will have arrived.
And the trouble is I don’t have a good excuse. Because even if I were sending a care package to a niece or nephew mining for gold thousands of miles away in California, through the magic of the modern US Postal Service, I could get them their brownies in a couple of days. They’d probably even be relatively fresh.
It’s not that I haven’t thought about getting it done. I figured out when their respective spring breaks were so they wouldn’t receive goodies when they weren’t around to eat them. I’ve set aside appropriate sized boxes. I’ve made several batches of brownies (that were delicious). And now it would seem I’ve even taken the time to blog about the fact that I haven’t yet put together packages and actually taken them to the post office.
So today I’m going to get it done.
Though the Pony Express was never financially successful and was halted after only about 18 months at the of the completion of the transcontinental telegraph (which was even less useful for shipping brownies), it did manage to transport more than 35,000 letters across the nation. And if a bunch of guys on horseback can accomplish that, I can probably box up some brownies and drive across town to the post office. Because I’m a super hip aunt.