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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


November 19, 2013

Frederick's Interesting People: Characters

Harry M. Covert

Just when it seemed daily life might return to the important stuff like the coming holidaying season in Frederick, and that everyone could delve into a book of characters, the bedraggled post office couldn't deliver.

 

I've always been a champion of the America postal system, Rural Free Delivery, commemorative stamps, parcel post, money orders and in general philatelists of all sorts.

 

In Frederick, however, with all of the new-fangled computer technology, where customers can track delivery from all over the county, the old slogan apparently has lost favor:

 

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

 

As a boy who once sold the tabloid-sized weekly Grit from Williamsport, PA., the papers were never late arriving in time for me to hustle down the street where we sold them to "customers" heading to the then liquor store. Sometimes buyers attempted to pull their hats and caps down over the faces. This was to avoid being seen by fellow church members.

 

Usually, sales income was enough to pay the publishers by post office money order. Cash for Grit went in my left front pocket; tips went in my beloved change carrier. Some editions thrown aside were picked up by my brother. He hustled them again. He kept the extra coins and cornered the market on such imbibers, who carried on with Four Roses and Old Granddad.

 

I didn't know anything about horticulture in my Harry the Newsboy days. I did recognize my grandfather on occasion, who would grin and give one of us a nickel or a dime.

 

All this came to mind last Friday when our pleasant mail carrier placed delivered campaign flyers for two victorious aldermen. A week late, of course.

 

Unfortunately the flyers missed out on the new computer technology and didn't arrive on time. The story is some 5,400 customers missed the late campaigning.

 

Several things were evident in this error. Non-profit or political mail is just as important as the first-class envelopes, at least to the users and recipients. The non-profit and second-class mail is handled after processing the more costly service.

 

It is incumbent on the mail users to provide their missives in plenty of time to arrive on time.

 

Direct mail is erroneously and often described as junk mail. It is not the latter. It is important to the business of the postal service, vital to businesses and necessary for mail recipients.

 

Long gone are the days when the postal system had morning and afternoon citywide deliveries. Obviously the time of a three-cent stamp has given way to the 46-cent price, soon to be 49 cents.

 

Post cards are good too. Once notes could be sent for one penny. Not in this enlightened period, though. Penny post cards are now 33 cents.

 

Of course, there are lots of interesting people in Frederick and Frederick County from time immemorial to the present. Lots of good people who make life fun, rewarding and interesting.

 

This may be somewhat sneaky, but as the mail was hitting the box on the front porch, I was checking into characters of Frederick city and county.

 

I learned quickly that Francis Scott Key, the poem composer, didn't have an easy life and that his family suffered. My education increased as I read more about a renowned judge and historian, a longtime rector of a downtown church, a peace officer – called a constable – who was murdered, and the youngest governor of Maryland.

 

There are many more, of course. The person who brought all of this to my attention for a fascinating time with the printed word is also a historian and editor and, with respect, a character.

 

John W. Ashbury, editor of this webpage, TheTentacle.com, has penned a fine book, Frederick County Characters: Innovators, Pioneers and Patriots of Western Maryland. Its form is the printed page and also online.

 

I am proud to blatantly recommend this delightful book. I look forward to learning more about The Newey-Markley Murders, the esteemed authors, bankers and educators.

 

And, I'm attending a book-signing this week.

 

hmcovert@thecovertletter.com

 



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