Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mailing a child

Steve published a short one the other day about a practice that the US Postal Service observed a hundred or so years ago of mailing children. Sounds preposterous, doesn't it?

This was well before my time, but I've been searching my memory banks to see if I had even heard about this. Some very dim memory, perhaps, but nothing concrete enough to relate in any detail.

Reading his post, however, reminded me of a time when I was driving a taxicab and was dispatched to an apartment complex. I was given a woman's name as the passenger.

When I arrived, she was waiting outside carrying a baby - just a few months old. She immediately opened the front passenger door, placed the baby (who was now sitting up) on the front seat and strapped him in. Then she gave me a piece of paper with the destination address. I was to be paid at the other end.

I was in such a state of shock, I think, that I simply drove away. The baby never took his large luminous eyes off of me the whole trip. Didn't cry. Didn't laugh or even gurgle a little. Never uttered a sound. Just watched me.

I remember being so nervous about that trip. What if I had an accident? What if the baby started screaming? What if he had the world's most tremendous bowel movement and it went all over the place? What if no one was there at the other end to receive him? What if I got stopped by the police? What if some irate relative tailed me the whole way, ready to beat me up at the other end for abducting their son, younger brother, nephew, whatever?

Well, I got to the destination safely with none of the above happening, someone was there to take the baby and I got paid. What a relief!

It was the only time in my nearly 18 years of driving a taxicab that something like that happened. That occurred fairly early on in my professional driving career. A few years later, the state laws changed - no child could ride in the front passenger seat, even in a taxicab, unless they were fourteen years old - and she would have had to place him in the back seat, all alone. I wonder how that would have gone over?

Would you have allowed your baby to be picked up by a Yellow Cab driver, a complete stranger, and trusted that your loved one would be safely delivered to another person?

Well, that's exactly what people expected the US Postal Service to do, isn't it? Meanwhile, en route, who fed the baby? Who changed its diapers? Who burped it? Who held it? My goodness, the questions that come to mind!

Go to Stamperdad's post, linked above, for a bit more information on the history of mailing children. As an added bonus, he includes a photograph (from the Smithsonian archives) taken in 1913.


Craig Peihopa said...

what an interesting AND disturbing thought to "mail" children or to send them via cab or whatever other means to a destination not of their choosing.

I am an adopted child. this happened at a time when I could not have made such a decision. I am the first to agree that my life is great, with it's incumbent struggles and difficulties sure, but who knows how different it might have been.

I have a sister that was put onto a train at a young age of 5 or 6 I think and sent for adoption to another destination with no-one to accompany her and to be met at the other end by parties she had no idea of. Wouldn't you know it, no-one was there for her. The people for whatever reason changed their mind. So she was sent back home again on a long train journey by herself with no money. What havoc those two train journeys have had on her life. She is a great person but has lots of sad, wrenching, hurt, even to this day for feeling so unwanted in those formative years. Whatever the guise was or is why people mailed or disposed of their own flesh and blood it is a sad and sorry state that affects people far beyond the time it happened and impacts the a large number of the individuals for the remainder of their mortality.

Polimom said...

I can't even imagine such a scenario, to be honest. And placing my baby in a taxi cab with a stranger??????? Not a chance! (Nothing personal against cab drivers there, I hope you understand...)

Craig, your story is incredibly sad. The idea that nobody would want one -- even as an adult -- is emotionally devastating. The long-term consequences to a child are horrible.

Last thought: When I first saw the title for this post, I mis-read "mailing" as "making" -- and I expected something MUCH different when started to read...

Chuck said...

I would never have mailed one of my kids. (I have, however, had a few students over the years that I might have been tempted to mail far away!)

Goldenrod said...

Have spent way more than just a few minutes going back through my previously-published 35 taxicab-driving posts. I thought SURE I had published this story before, but I guess not. So many more posts need to be published by me in re my taxi driving years, some of which would have been 'continuing on' - or other memories triggered - from my previous posts, but not toDAY! (Have other fish to fry, as they say, and right now I'm anxious to finish my remarks to comments on this post and move on to thinking about my bridge lesson for Wednesday night. Have to go when and where the mood strikes me.)

Thank you for sharing your poignant memory with us. I wonder, Craig, as do others (perhaps) ... ... has your sister availed herself of the opportunity to unburden or share (albeit with you, personally, or privately - as in a journal type of thing), trying for a cathartic release of pentup emotions?

Craig, your story about your sister is SO sad ... ... one of the more horrific realizations of your story is that yours occurred in 'modern' times, not 100 or more years ago!

Chuck, I can definitely relate to your 'temptation' to mail one of your students. Now, THAT idea is kind of funny!

And, Polimom? What can I say to you here? OK. So you misread the title of my post to be "Making a Child" ... ... what did you think you were going to read/and or see???? A XXX-rated pornographic film? Tsk tsk, and tut tut! :):)

Craig Peihopa said...

My sister only shared her experience with me on this matter once, several years ago, and I have seen her many times since. With the direction of how her life has gone, it has certainly been a sobering reminder to me of the consequences people might make with children, that though the original intentions may have been for the "benefit of the child" little thought in HER case, was actually upon whether it would affect the child, and I can attest, that it has had a profound impact on and in her life.

Great post Goldenrod, and I can also add that since I have been a visitor on the blog you have never spoken/ written about this topic.

Now lastly, If you were wanting to take us on a different journey, more akin to Polimom's original thoughts I would be happy to read anything on that subject as well!! Shame on me.

Tammy said...

Goldenrod, I am chuckling over your comment to Polimom, and then Craig's comment after. You see...we HAVE read a post on copulating cockroaches here on your blog, so nothing will ever surprise me. ;)

And, no, you've never written about this before. The idea is just horrifying. What a traumatic thing for a baby or a child. I have been mulling this over ever since I read this post of yours yesterday...incredibly disturbing, and something to really think about.

Craig, the story of your sister is so sad...I hope she is surrounded by loving & caring people in her life now. I imagine she must be a very compassionate mother if she has a child or children. A devastating occurance could bring about the sweetest learning experience and blessing later in life.

Thank you for sharing this post with us, Goldenrod.