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August 26, 2019 - 6:20pm

'Special delivery' of airmail at GC Sheriff's Office got delayed by nine decades -- in Batavia

1929_envelope_-_carl_wenzel_-_harry_sievers-1.jpg

A letter in Friday's mail at the Genesee County Sheriff's Office took the term "snail mail" to a whole nother level -- the batch contained an envelope postmarked 12 p.m. Aug. 30, 1929, from Youngstown, Ohio to a man living at 14 Main St., the address of the local jail.

That's exactly one week shy of 90 years: Aug. 30, 1929, to Aug. 23, 2019.

"We thought it was pretty interesting," said Sheriff William Sheron this afternoon.

Even more notable is the black stamp on the left side of the "via air mail" envelope, distinctly bordered in red, white and blue, declaring it was being delivered by the "first official airmail pick-up in the United States."

Like the sender, the courier was also out of Youngstown, Ohio, a newfangled service named "Adams Non-Stop Method."

But the missive for Carl L. Wenzel was obviously dead in its tracks someplace.

The back of the envelope shows a stamp indicating it arrived promptly in Batavia, NY, at 9 a.m. on Aug. 31, 1929.

So Adams Non-Stop Method was fast; its claim valid. Trusty pilot Harry Seivers did his job.

The Batavia Postmaster at the time was Henry R. Ware (tenure 1927 to 1933). To think that this piece of mail has been next door to the jail at the Post Office on Main Street perhaps all this time...

But the U.S. Postal Service is dedicated and, by God, if a piece of mail turns up, they'll get it to you regardless. Remember their motto: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

The passage of time is irrelevant, even though the intended recipient is long dead. It's the principle that counts.

The envelope intended for Wenzel only contained seven small blank rectangles of paper, sent to him by someone apparently wanting to correspond or at least supply him with the means to correspond with somebody.

The sender in 1929 paid for two five-cent stamps with bespectacled Teddy Roosevelt on them -- a value of $1.50 in today's dollars. That's when gas was a quarter a gallon and a pound of steak cost 52 cents -- before the stock market crashed two months later and changed everyone's math for the worse for a long time.

(Here's a link where ephemera buffs can bid on similar pieces of mail.)

Below, the seven blank pages of writing paper that were inside the envelope.

Bottom, the back of the envelope, showing it was received in Batavia, NY, at 9 a.m. Aug. 31, 1929.

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