When the rural free mail delivery system started in Orlando, the rule at that time was that rural carriers were selected by the home post office postmaster. Later, rural carriers secured their positions by bid.
One of the duties of rural mail carriers, in addition to delivering the mail and picking up mail, was the sale of stamps, envelopes, and post cards to the rural customers. In the early years of the rural free mail delivery, all transport of the mail was by horseback, or by horse-drawn wagon, when weather and road conditions allowed. Of course, the mail was delivered in the harshest of weather conditions. Rural mail carriers braved the elements of “rain, hail, sleet, and cold,” as the oft used slogan states.
Early in the last century, winters were noticeably more severe than they are today. Naturally, the job of delivering mail in the dead of winter at that time was a test of even the hardiest men. The mail carriers expected to slog through the deep snow, or mud, or the grueling sun, and although a test of their mettle, it was often the picayune tasks which were aggravating. Charles Victor Blake, the Orlando rural mail carrier set to verse one of the nagging grievances of the rural free mail carrier.
I’m Uncle Sam’s most favored pet
I’m hearty and I’m hale,
I’ve nothing in this world to do
But glide ‘round with the mail;
But one thing almost breaks my heart,
And my nervous system shocks
Is the everlasting pennies
That I’m fingering from the box.
I carry stamps and envelopes
And postal cards and such,
And I would like to sell a few—
‘Twould please me very much.
But a man can’t sell unless you buy,
No matter how he talks,
So I have to keep on diving
After the pennies in the box.
It’s all right in the spring time
Or when the summer breezes blow,
But a different proposition
When it’s thirty-two below.
When all your fingers and your toes
Are frozen hard as rocks,
It’s most everything but funny
Scratching pennies from the box.
And now confidentially
I’ll tell you something more,
There has been rural carriers
Forgot themselves and swore.
I can stand snow drips.
I can stand the frozen locks.
But bless the measly pennies
In the blessed measly box.
When the roll is called up yonder
And we shall gather there,
They wouldn’t let a mail man in,
If they knew he learned to swear.
If you want St. Peter to open the gate
When your rural carrier knocks
Buy stamps and don’t be guilty
Of putting pennies in the box.
So this all I have to say,
Buy your stamps on a nice bright day;
Prepare for a storm and a long bad spell,
And your carrier will say you have treated him well.
Here is the photo you have heard about. Am so sorry they are so poorly finished, yet the ??? are very natural Mother appreciated the token of love you sent her. My uncles wish you ?? ?? ?? Mother is in her usual health. Gets out driving on nice days, ??? you can find time write her a long letter she loves to hear from her loved ones. She dreads the dreary days of winter, is so shut in. Give her love & regards to all the friends & relatives. She joins with me in wishing you joy & success. Love, May A. Miller"
David Parmer mentioned the harsh circumstances that Orlando's RFD carriers faced. Orlando RFD Route 1 and Route 2 were nothing like the history books portray America's early RFD.