By Marilyn Turk
True or False? At one time, it was legal to mail babies through the U.S. Postal Service.
The New York Times reported in an article that a mail carrier in Batavia, Ohio, delivered a baby from his parents to his grandparents:
A year later, the Times reported a similar instance of a small boy being shipped by his grandmother to an aunt via Parcel Post:
Mrs. E.H. Staley of this city received her two-year-old nephew by parcel post today from his grandmother in Stratford, Oklahoma, where he had been left for a visit three weeks ago. The boy wore a tag about his neck showing it had cost eighteen cents to send him through the mails. He was transported 25 miles by rural route before reaching the railroad. He rode with the mail clerks, shared his lunch with them and arrived here in good condition.
On February 19, 1914, the parents of four-year-old May Perstorff mailed her from Grangeville, Idaho, to her grandparents in Lewiston, Idaho. Mailing May was apparently cheaper than buying her a train ticket. The little girl wore 53-cents worth of postal stamps on her jacket as she traveled in the train's mail compartment.
After hearing of such instances, the Postmaster General issued a regulation forbidding the sending of children in the mail, stating that "children did not come within the classification of harmless live animals (bees and bugs) which do not require food or water while in transit."
Although these examples were misinterpretations of the purpose of the post office, they do attest to a time when travel was difficult for most people. They also reflect the trust people had in the mail carriers to take care of their most valued possessions, their children.
If it were legal, would you mail your child today?