The ethic of “The Greatest Generation” was God, family and country. This mantra played well through the Second World War and was modified only slightly in the 60’s when Lombardi told players to focus on but three things: God, family, and the Green Bay Packers.

He didn’t play much football but our father too had a credo and our father too preached a world vision. To the man that raised us, specifically, the world could be boiled down to three things…

First and foremost, our patriarch assured us, came family. Often we’d spend Sundays with Aunt This or Cousin That. They were from our mom’s side (pretty much) but Dad always followed suit. Be they great aunts or second cousins, it mattered not. I still see the old man’s lip puff over Grandma’s poor Scrabble play and, even more graphically, I vision his cringing through arduous violin solos by an Alfred E. Newman-ish Cousin Sheldon. (Dad’s ears were correct, by the way. In adolescence Shelly would ditch his fiddle for a bat ‘n glove— ultimately entering Softball’s Hall Of Fame).

After family came friends. To Al Bogart, his pals were sacrosanct. He taught us to honor buddies, break bread with them, do business with them, and regardless of right or might, have their backs.

There was, of course, a third rung to his holy trilogy…

To our father, after family and after friends came not baseball— and not even gin rummy. No, after family and friends came the United States Post Office. It was a love— and yes, a passion—which he passed down with relish.

“It’s the best buy in the world!” he’d exclaim. “Where else can you just put a stamp on something and the next day it’s in Texas?” “But Dad,” I’d point out, “We don’t know anyone in Texas!”

He was right (of course). I saw it soon enough and in time grappled the postal service to my soul. Those who know me know well how to this day I thrill sending mail!

And it’s never mattered what the stamp cost. First memory says it was 5 cents “in the day”, (with postcards even less). So what? Stick anything in an envelope and for a small price, it’s anywhere! How valuable is YOUR time? Over decades I’ve mailed letters, pictures, toothbrushes, decals, and even empty envelopes, all in the spirit of communication…and all for nickels. Would it have made more sense to schlep by car or pay for delivery?

—Which is why I was thrilled some months back to meet Jillian’s (then-future) in-laws—one of whom travels on behalf of the postal service.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked. “That’s really what you do?”

Not only couldn’t I get over it, but right then and there—on the spot—live and in person—in the Millers’ living room…I volunteered my services for the good of the service.

“You should let me be the spokesperson,” I urged. “I’d love to tell everyone how great the Post Office is.” (I WOULD, by the way. I’d shout it from the rooftops. For free).

No, I don’t kvetch when the line gets long. Tireless clerks tending to impatient clowns get my sympathy, not my wrath. And I don’t complain when sometimes one day means two. So what? This is the U.S. Mail we’re talking about!

In the ‘60’s it brought word from a dad still selling on the road. In the ‘70’s ‘twas boxes of cookies brightening days at Fort Polk. And even now…even now mail brings pictures—pictures of grandchildren…to hold onto….to grow young with.

With reverie I recall how years ago the ex took Michael’s Bar Mitzvah invites to the station for stamping. Crazy, thought I…until … a generation later I helped Caryn cart even more boxes for the Roth/Schorr nuptials. It was an event, you see—something to hold onto, even though admittedly, just recently, I asked Caryn what the point was.

Yes, it’s all good with me and the post office: from six days/week to five— from commemorative stamps to self-adhesive— from Cliff Clavin to Newman. In sixty years neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night, has ever made me feel any differently about family, about friends…and clearly about the U.S. Post Office.

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