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Friday, April 2, 2010

RFD AND RURAL MAILBOXES

SPECIAL RECOGNITION STAMP OF RURAL FREE DELIVERY WHEN STAMPS WERE ONLY THIRTY TWO CENTS

At one time, I remember writing RR2 as part of the address for letters being sent to my cousins in the country. RR meaning rural route. I knew that RR had a connection to the words, rural free delivery -- but I was, "in the dark," as to what was the meaning of rural free delivery or RFD for short. So recently I did a little research and came up with the answer to my long ago perplexity. I thought, "better late than never," to find an answer to my childhood question.


RURAL MAILBOX WITH AN EARLY HAND PLOW ATTACHED

This is what I found. Up until about 1891 residents had to travel to the nearest town to pick up their mail at the local postoffice. If they wanted it delivered to their home they had to pay private carriers to bring it from that near-by post- office. After 1891 rural routes were slowly established across the nation by the U.S. post office that by law provided free delivery to rural homes. Thus was born the acronym RFD.

RURAL BLUE MAILBOXES -- BIG AND LITTLE -- SIDE BY SIDE

So why did I put RR in the rural cousin's address rather than RFD. Well, in the past rural free delivery service included both the rural route (RR) number -- such as, "RR 5, Box 123." Box being the number on the mailbox. Rural route being the route number established by the U.S. postoffice in their delivery system.


RURAL MAILBOX -- APPARENTLY A BIRD LOVER'S HOME

Today things are different for rural routes. No more RR designations. When the 911 emergency system was created RR was discontinued. House numbers were then used on mailboxes so emergency services could find the house.

RURAL MAILBOX WITH OLD FASHIONED HAND PUMP AS POST

So there you have it. From RFD to house address on the mailboxes of today.

I have been taking photos of Kentucky rural mailboxes over the last couple days in Madison and Garrard counties. I took shots of those that kinda made a statement about the people that live in the house.

Without RFD we wouldn't have rural home mailboxes -- or what has become a custom of accessorizing our mailboxes. I would consider many of the decorated mailboxes as a folk art type.

RURAL MAILBOX -- HORSE FARM

RURAL MAILBOX OF LLAMA FARM

8 comments:

  1. My childhood address was RR 2 Box 249A. I never knew any of the history behind this stuff either, so thank you! :-)

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  2. I love this topic! And your photos are wonderful!!

    When we first moved here back in 1975, Barbara, our address was simply RR 1 plus Box No, City, State and Zip. Over time, though, it became HC 65, which stands for "Highway Contract" and designates those routes that the U. S. Postal Service has contracted out for mail delivery. Yes, to us, the postal "patrons" it continues to be "free" (or at least costs are taken into account--hidden--in the taxes we pay which are part of the "contracted services" the Postal Service uses); we don't pay a fee per se. But it is no longer RFD. Nor is it RR. The carrier is a private "contractor" who bids for the right to deliver mail on that "route." It's always such a pain to give one's address verbally with the HC designation! Add on four numbers to the zip code and people say, "Whaaat?" every time, and haven't a clue what it all means. So, we take the time to explain and enlighten folks with a short- history-of-the-postal-service explanation, in the course of giving our address...every time. If I might be so rude as to comment.... our complicated address is just one more example of governmental short-sightedness. THEY seem to know what the HC means, and couldn't care less about the rest of us, especially those with the cumbersome HC's!!! Guess I have "an attitude!"

    The mailbox pictures are wonderful! What personalities they have!

    Thanks for a great post, Barbara!

    Elora

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  3. Eccentricity -- Yes, sometimes its the simple things in life that we are unaware of its beginnings. Read Elora's comment above and learn more about the postal route service. I learned something from her comment about HC. I had seen HC once several years ago and never thought to ask what the heck it meant. Now I know. Thanks for the nice comment --barbara

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  4. Elora -- What good information on addresses using HC. I didn't know the meaning of HC in an address and never connected it to the U.S. postal service routes. I bet it is confusing to people that need your address -- so do you have a house number or an HC number, or both, on your mailbox for emergency services? I would think maybe both? One thing I did not mention in my mailbox post is that not everyone has a mailbox. When I lived in the mountain boonies of New Mexico I still had to drive to the nearest post office for my mail. All of the folks up in my area had to do the same. So I guess there are still pockets that have to go to the nearest P.O. for their mail. -- barbara

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  5. Great post! Loved the pictures and found all the different types of mailboxes interesting! I never have really taken the time to notice mailboxes before.

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  6. Darcy, Rural mailboxes seem to be more interesting than town or city boxes as they are viewed easily by the side of the road. Perhaps, sometimes, people that have these type of boxes think of them as extensions of themselves. Next time you are out for a drive in the country you can take in all the sites plus a few mailboxes. I would imagine that the personal custom of decorating mailboxes can be found across the nation? -- barbara

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  7. Great selection of rural mailboxes! Fun to see. We have both an RR number and a street address.

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  8. barefootheart -- Interesting that you have both RR and street address. I imagine you have the street address as, perhaps, you have emergency services. Thank you for the comment -- barbara

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