Smokey Celebrates 71st Birthday

Smokey Bear, Capitan Postmaster Ralph Griffo, acting Post Office Operations Manager Paul Pantoja, and Smokey Bear Historical Park Manager Bennie Long.

Smokey Bear, Capitan Postmaster Ralph Griffo, acting Post Office Operations Manager Paul Pantoja, and Smokey Bear Historical Park Manager Bennie Long.

Recently, residents and visitors to the Capitan, NM, Post Office enjoyed a special treat – a visit from Smokey Bear.

Originally created in 1944, Smokey Bear has been an iconic symbol for preventing wildfires. When a fire devastated the southern part of New Mexico in 1950, firefighters managed to rescue a bear cub. Though partially burned, the cub was nursed back to health. Soon thereafter, the Forest Service and Game and Fish Department decided to make the cub the living symbol of Smokey Bear.

In celebration of Smokey Bear’s 71st birthday, a special postmark and commemorative envelope were offered to attendees of the 12th annual Smokey Bear Days event in Capitan on May 1 and 2.

“This Postmark America design will be a hit with visitors and area residents alike,” Capitan Postmaster Ralph Griffo said. “We’re proud to be able to help celebrate Smokey’s importance to our community and to the entire country.”

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Burros in the Post Office

“Hey, I heard you’re coming out with Rudolf stamps. Is it too late to apply for the photo shoot?”

“Hey, I heard you’re coming out with Rudolf stamps. Is it too late to apply for the photo shoot?”

This image of a burro visiting the Post Office in Oatman, AZ, isn’t an unusual sight. Wild burros typically roam the town, and most local shop owners have bags of carrots available for residents and tourists to purchase.

Family History

Joann Lutcavich and Erma Gyhra cutting the ribbon for the dedication of the Steinauer Community Heritage House.

Joann Lutcavich and Erma Gyhra cutting the ribbon for the dedication of the Steinauer Community Heritage House.

The small town of Steinauer, NE, is home to 75 close-knit community members who value the rich heritage of their historic territory. Named after three brothers from Switzerland who founded the town in 1856, the population has dwindled some since its peak of 248 residents in 1910, but the legacy of the Steinauer family remains as strong as ever.

Last month, the Steinauer family converged on their namesake town from as far away as Peru for a family reunion. One of the main events held during the gathering was the re-dedication of the former Post Office into a community museum called the Steinauer Community Heritage House.

“We had nearly 150 people join us for the dedication,” said Event Organizer Terry Wagner-Lomax. “It was the kick-off for the family reunion.”

The conversion of the Post Office into a museum was a community-involved effort, with many members contributing special items to the cause. The gathering at the re-dedication ceremony brought back fond memories of it’s past.

“As a child, one of the placed we always used to stop in was the Post Office,” said Terry. “The Postmaster would always have a treat for us and it was a lot of fun.”

The 792 square-foot building, built in 1874, served as the Post Office for nearly 120 years. In honor of its service to the town, two Steinauer brothers purchased the property and renovated the building. It’s transition into a community museum involved careful planning and the support of the local community.

“The project itself started a year and a half ago,” said Terry. “When people found out about the project, they started bringing things to the Post Office such as the original mail sorting desk and employee desk. When we looked inside the drawers, we found original route maps. It’s been fun for the community to see these things go back to where they belong.”

Terry’s great, great grandfather, Joseph Steinauer, was one of the original founders of the town. He also became the first Postmaster in 1874.

“Joseph originally ran the Post Office out of his home,” said Terry. “He eventually built a building and moved the Post Office there. He never received a salary as a Postmaster, but he did make a little from selling stamps, though it was never more than $20 a year.”

In addition to serving as a Post Office, the building simultaneously served as the town’s first bank and printing press. Eventually, the bank moved to a separate building and the press ceased operation, leaving the Post Office as the sole business occupant for more than a century.

The Steinauer Community Heritage House is home to postal memorabilia, a memorial to the community’s veterans, and a variety of photographs, documents and other items that chronicle the rich history of the town and the Post Office. The unique collection of items housed inside the fully restored building will provide the opportunity for members of the community to relive and rediscover the heritage of the town for many generations to come.

Steinauer PO 2

An image of the Steinauer Post Office many decades ago.

Steinauer PO 1

The Steinauer Post Office as it appears today.

Never Forget

Never Forget

Summer Fun

Hello all, Benny here. The summer months are quickly coming to a close and I wanted to share with you a few of the photos I took during some of the journeys I was fortunate to enjoy. I hope you like them!

Did you take some interesting photos during a fun, adventurous vacation this summer too? I’d sure like to see them! Send them to me at bennyblogger@gmail.com along with a brief description of where you went and I’ll share them others right here on Your Postal Blog.

Thank you, and have a great rest of the summer!

Benny

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On a Cloudy Day

On a cloudy day

This image of the Mississippi River taken along the Stone Arch Bridge passes directly next to the Main Post Office in Minneapolis, MN. The sound of flowing water can sometimes be a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the large office on a busy day.

Melodic sounds are sometimes associated with a more pleasant demeanor and brighter outlook throughout one’s day. They’ve also been known to help increase motivation when the end of the day needs a little encouragement to appear.

When you have the opportunity to listen to sounds, music, or other forms of audio motivation, what do you choose to listen to?

Birthday Cards for Boy Battling Cancer

Birthday cards

Struggling with life-threatening cancer is one of the most difficult challenges someone can face. For 5-year-old Danny Nickerson, looking forward to his upcoming birthday is giving him the optimism he needs – with the help of a special type of gift.

Birthday cards are all the soon to be 6-year-old wants for his birthday on July 25. Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, Danny wishes to enjoy the sight of many birthday cards with his name written on them to help celebrate his special day.

To send Danny a message for his birthday, address it to:

Danny Nickerson
PO Box 212
Foxboro, MA 02035

To read more about Danny’s story, click here.

Ambitious Pup Sports Familiar Uniform

Postal Pup

This ambitious postal pup was sent in by Charles Forkner of Minneapolis, MN. The curious canine stands at attention as though dutifully awaiting receipt of a customer’s mail piece.

If the proud pooch were to speak to the customer in his unofficial postal capacity, what do you think he’s say?

Flag Day

Flag POW-MIA

Each year, June 14 is celebrated as a special day for an integral part of America.

Flag Day was officially established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson through proclamation to honor the 1777 adoption of the United States flag. Three decades later in 1949, President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

Flag Day is also one of six days each year in which certain federal facilities, including Post Offices, fly the POW-MIA flag. The flag honors the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action.

Normandy Landing of Omaha and Utah

Army Specialist Gayle Eyler

Army Specialist Gayle Eyler

On this day 70 years ago during World War II, the Normandy amphibious landings occurred. The invasion marked the beginning of the campaign to free Western Europe from Nazi occupation by using a combination of air, sea, and ground-based attacks.

Part of the main focus in the initial stage of the campaign was the control of five key sections of the Normandy coast identified as Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold, and Sword. The United States focused on the Omaha and Utah beaches, while Canadian and United Kingdom forces concentrated on the others. The eventual success of the campaign freed the French Republic from Nazi control and was a significant victory for Allied forces.

In the planning stages of the initial attack, U.S. General Omar Bradley may have received the idea to name the U.S. landing areas from a unique source. In a collection of notes recently discovered by USPS Supervisor Eric Korus among his father’s possessions, Army Carpenter Gayle Eyler identified himself and a colleague as having helped Bradley with the idea for the Omaha and Utah names.

During their morning strategy sessions, Bradley would often have coffee with other high-ranking officers. According to Eyler’s notes, both he and a fellow carpenter were occasionally invited to join these meetings. It was during one such occasion that a discussion of the carpenters’ hometowns surfaced. Later on in a subsequent meeting when officers discussed possible names for the U.S. landing areas in Normandy, Bradley suggested Omaha and Utah in honor of his carpenters.

Though corroboration of Eyler’s account of the beach naming process hasn’t been officially confirmed, many other portions of his notes have proven to be historically accurate.

  • Hello, I'm Benny the Blogger: I'm the world's most famous postal employee. My hobbies are snappy quotes, kite flying and publishing. I was born Jan. 17, 1706, but don't call me old.

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