Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Iconic Institutions/ Archaic Practices

These cultural constants are about to become rarities. Perhaps just memories of people born before 2010.
Last night on the news I saw that the Post Office will be closing more outlets. The price of a stamp has jumped more times than I can count (off the top of my head) since I have been over 30 after years of same-same. They are still suffering financially. The internet allows people to talk to each other with more ease (email) and pay bills with little effort (no stamp!).
Newspapers are also hitting the dinosaur wall. My local paper has shrunk in size and now in content. At the minimum we used to get 3 sections of paper; Front page with big news and editorial content, second section of local and entertainment, 3rd section of sports and classifieds.
Now it is only two thin sections of perhaps 8 pages each. And they still want the same price for it!

I grew up in a small town with a post office that looked like the temple of a minor Greek God. There were porticos and columns outside, marble floors, walls and counters inside. The walls of PO boxes almost glittered from the windows showing the box interior and the gilt numbers and trim painted on each one. On the hottest of summer days, the inside of the PO was so cool it was almost chilly. I walked bare-footed on those marble floors many times, just like a lot of other little kids before me.
Because I lived in a relatively rural town, our daily newspaper from the nearest metro arrived late in the afternoon. Reading the paper was the way to see what the world was up to in those days and one of the first "adult" habits I acquired.
Soon books and stories that reference the post office or the newspaper will be considered tales of days gone by. One day readers of those stories will have to find reference web pages to understand how the PO worked and why anyone wanted to work for a "news paper."

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