Will the Merry Mailman go the way of the Merry Milkman?
Say it ain’t so.
The very thought that the once iconic American letter carrier who vowed to deliver our mail through snow or rain or heat or gloom of night might soon disappear from our landscape seems unimaginable.
If Trump’s threat to not sign a bill to help bail out a beleaguered USPS causing them to shut down, the mailman will not be very merry.
Nor will Americans.
The beloved mailman, an American institution has always been such an integral part of our daily lives. Neither family or friend, he occupies a unique place in our day to day life, maintaining structure and continuity in our daily routine. A friendly conversation, a wave, and a smile add to the human contact that mail delivers.
The Merry Mailman
So beloved a feature of our lives was the Mailman that there was once a children’s TV show named after him. In a world of mid-century children’s TV hosts populated by an assortment of pseudo Captains, clowns, and Police Officers, the friendly Merry Mailman stood out.
For New York metro area kids, the popular TV show “The Merry Mailman” starring Ray Heatherton as the perpetually smiling postal worker with the melodic voice was as regular a feature in our homes as the letter carrier who delivered our Life magazines. This warm-hearted fictional mailman who presided over Merry Mailand entertained young baby boomers with songs, puppets, cartoons, and storytelling.
The show that began on WOR Channel 9 in 1950 was originally a low budget affair, a 15-minute cartoon show where he introduced old movie cartoons like Terrytoons. Dressed in a spiffy mailman’s uniform he worked standing in front of a curtain.
The show expanded, morphing into a variety show with a zany former burlesque comic actor sidekick and featured songs, stories, craft making and interaction with a studio of kids. The guest appearance included Red Buttons and Celeste Holmes.
With his easy smile and gentle ways, the Merry Mailman was more friend than parent or teacher to his young audience. Speaking directly to the viewers at home and the children in his audience, he was able to instill good solid American values in his young viewers, discussing proper school behavior, health and safety tips, and being kind and thoughtful to others.
Unfortunately, there were some who weren’t very kind to our favorite mailman.
Caught in the web of McCarthyism, Ray Heatherton wasn’t very merry when he was accused of being a communist. He became a victim of that witch hunt when a supermarket chain owner wrongly accused him of being sympathetic to the Red Menace. The show lost viewers and ratings and went off the air in 1956 until it rebounded on another local station WPIX in 1960.
Return to Sender
Now the fate of our current postal workers may be in limbo if the government doesn’t come to their aide. Trump has seemingly turned a blind eye to the over 600,000 postal employees if he blocks potential emergency funding for the USPS.
The US postal service has been bleeding financially for some time. Now the coronavirus is ravaging the USPS, taking its toll on its overextended workforce. Postal workers and mail carriers are not immune to the virus and have fallen sick Like so many American businesses the US Postal service is suffering from declining demand due to the pandemic.
The coronavirus could shut down the struggling office by June.
For many Americans, The USPS is a lifeline of supplies and medicine and a way for many to vote.
This is deadly serious.
In fact, the only one who will be merry might be Trump and his merry band of trickster Republicans. Not only have they long lusted to privatize the postal system, more importantly, they will be darn happy to see the mail system not functional for the November election. No post office, no mail. No mail, no mail-in voting ballots.
For Trump it’s a 2 for one win, decimating our postal system and another American institution- the right to make every vote count.
I for one am not very merry about that.