At their beginning the group was purely for the enjoyment of each other’s company and the chance to sing. But as time passed, they began to sing at post office events, local events, and nursing homes. By 1960 they had garnered national interest and the Post Office Department adopted them as their official spokes-group. Their fame continued to grow as they released an album entitled “Neither Snow Nor Rain,” the money from which came their funds for the ZIP Code tour.
They even became popular enough to be featured on the prime-time television program “Sing Along with Mitch” where they sang their theme song, “Men with the US Mail.” They were also the only organization at the time to be granted special permission by the Postmaster General to perform in their uniforms, which they declared as “a great honor”.(3) Other notable performances were at the White House, the U.S. Congress, and for Florida Governor Ferris Bryant.
In 1961, they made a trip to various radio stations around the United States to promote the “Shop and Mail Early” campaign during the Christmas season. Their itinerary was vast; they visited Menasha, WI; Galveston, TX; Hagerstown, MD; Santa Fe, NM; Terre Haute, IN; and Jamesville, WI. The next year they recorded a song for the same purpose:
(set to the tune of Jingle Bells)
Christmas stamps, Christmas stamps, making our debut.
We’ll brighten up your Christmas cards and speed them on to you.
Don’t delay; mail today. It’s later than you think.
We’ll put them through for all of you, quicker than a wink.(4)
Later in 1963 they made a similar goodwill tour up and down the East Coast to promote the use of the ZIP Code. They traveled in a large bus loaded with a piano, their luggage—and hundreds of coconuts to pass out at each performance to represent Mr. ZIP. They played for twenty-one audiences in twelve different cities, again armed with a song:
(set to the theme of ZIppity Do Da)
Welcome to the ZIP Code
Use it today
Send your mail out
The five-digit way
For speedier handling
To lighten the load
Your return address
Should have the ZIP Code(5)
The Singing Mailmen were never paid for their local Florida appearances or for their trips for the Post Office Department. Instead, they raised money for charities or used the funds to make their goodwill tours and share their music with others. They even each used annual leave for their trips. One member put it well: “There was a lot of camaraderie—we all stuck together and looked after one another’s well-being. We also brought joy to a lot of people. It was a great pleasure to see the smiles on their faces”.(6)
Most of the members retired by 1970 and the chorus disbanded, though nine did reunite again in 1985 for a local television reunion concert in Miami. In 1989, a writer for the Miami Herald found Sidney Barshak, then seventy-one years old, and previous member of the Singing Mailmen of Miami and the J in the JCP Trio.(7) He did not know if any other members were still alive, as had contact slowly faded over the years. But he still remembered those times very fondly saying “I don’t like to toot my own horn, but when the lights came down, the spotlight came on, the curtain opened, there we were. We had some great times”.(8)