RFD: The Second Century

In 1996, the National Postal Museum produced this video that celebrated the Rural Free Delivery centennial and looks at how the service works in this day and age.

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-The most important characteristic for a rural carrier would be honesty.

- I think they should be polite. I think they should be caring.

-You have to have patience.

-And I think you have to be able to work independently because we're pretty much on our own out there and you gotta figure out what to do.

A century has passed since the beginnings of rural free delivery but some things haven't changed. Rural carriers are still different from city ones. They don't wear a uniform, and most of them own and operate their own vehicles. In all kinds of weather, they serve the back roads, a "post office on wheels."

-Mr. Curler, my name is Teola Brittingham. I'm your rural carrier.

-A rural carrier can provide just about any service a post office can, door to door.

-Whenever you want stamps, use this envelope.

-Teola Brittingham has been a rural carrier near Ocean City, Maryland for 15 years.

-Here's your mail. You've been out in the field again. I'm waiting for my tomatoes. It's family and I like it like that because if there's anything else wrong out here, if somebody does not pick their mail up and I noticed that that mail is in that box a couple days, I call and make sure that that person is okay.

-Carroll County, Maryland was the first county in the U.S. to get complete Rural Free Delivery in 1896. In 23 years here as a rural carrier Bill Francis has seen a lot of change.

-It was a lot of farmers. And you helped people catch horses or you know chase a cow or something, so a lot of the farms now are houses so you see more people. They're not back on a farm now where you wave at them on a tractor. Now, they're mowing their lawn.

-Virginia Fream's route in northern Carroll County now includes 550 homes. But she still has five dirt roads along her 50 mile route.

-This past winter at one time we had 36 inches of snow. Basically we were the only people that were allowed on the road.

Hi Lois, how are you today? Do you need any stamps?

-No, not today.

-Peggy Ludwig is only the third carrier to serve her hundred year old route in Carroll County. In her 20 years of service, her customers have helped her build a remarkable collection of postal memorabilia.

-Some of the older people, they remember both of the carriers before me. And they can they can talk about the first one when he drove the wagon with the horses. We mean a lot to the people. They mean a lot to us.

-We care. I think carriers pretty much 100% care.

-I know that I'm helping somebody. And it's not just a job.