Write for each other

CA love story

Augie Ruiz and Mary Perez were visiting relatives in Illinois at Christmastime in 1965 when they were fixed up on a blind date.

They saw the new James Bond movie “Thunderball” and went on a few more dates before Ruiz, a Navy sailor, embarked on his next tour of duty, and Perez boarded a bus home to San Francisco.

They promised to write to each other — which they did, beginning a romance that unfolded through letters they exchanged during the next two years.

“The entire courtship was by mail,” said Ruiz, now a USPS strategic communications specialist for Pacific Area.

Ruiz received Perez’s letters in bunches, tied with rubber bands. He always arranged the envelopes by postmark date before opening them.

“I wanted to make sure I read them in the order she wrote them,” he said. “Little did I know that years later I would be working for the organization that invented the postmark.”

Because Ruiz was away at sea, he didn’t get to mail letters to Perez as often as he would have liked. She checked her mailbox daily, and sometimes didn’t hear from him for months at a time.

“But when I did get a letter from him, it was like getting 10 letters at once because he would date and time each page as he had time to write something down. He said it was ‘a captain’s log of the heart,’” she said.

About a year after they began corresponding, Ruiz wrote to Perez and asked her to marry him. She wrote back with an enthusiastic yes.

“It was the first pitch letter I wrote,” said Ruiz, whose job often involves “pitching” news reporters on stories about USPS.

In October 1967, the couple came face to face again for the first time since their initial dates almost two years earlier. They walked down the aisle later that week.

Fifty years, three children and five grandchildren later, the written word remains important to the Ruizes, who live in the San Jose, CA, area. He still writes her letters and gives her cards to mark milestones and holidays — including Valentine’s Day, one of the couple’s favorites.

They often reminisce about how it all began.

Said Ruiz: “It was a blind date that turned into blind faith, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the mail.”

Gallantly streaming

Stamp Flag

The Postal Service dedicated its latest U.S. Flag stamp last week in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

South Florida District Acting Manager Timothy Costello, who led the dedication ceremony, noted flag stamps are a longtime USPS tradition.

“Since 1957, the Postal Service has produced colorful stamps that celebrate the American flag in all of its beautiful red, white and blue glory,” Costello said. “Through this stamp, the Postal Service reminds us all of the importance of showing our patriotism and pride all year round.”

The ceremony was held Feb. 9 at an American Stamp Dealers Association show. Dana Guyer, the association’s executive director, served as master of ceremonies.

The stamp features a digital illustration of a flag with crisp folds and a contemporary look. A shadow on a small, visible portion of the flag’s back suggests a sense of depth. Kit Hinrichs, a San Francisco artist, created the image.

The U.S. flag first appeared on a postage stamp in 1869, but it wasn’t until 1957 that stamps began featuring full-color images of the flag.

The U.S. Flag stamp is available in booklets of 20 and coils of 100. The Postal Service’s news release has more information.

Greater visibility

iv Update

The Postal Service wants more business customers to use the Informed Visibility analytics platform.

Informed Visibility shows the physical movement of letters and flats in near-real-time. The platform centralizes scanning data and other information from postal facilities and equipment from across the nation.

Business customers can use an external application, Informed Visibility Mail Tracking and Reporting, to access this information, allowing them to virtually follow their mailings through acceptance, processing and delivery.

Informed Visibility Mail Tracking and Reporting handles 1.1 billion mailpiece scans each day. The system provides tracking data for 1,500 users, about 40 percent more than the number who used an older system called IMb Tracing.

USPS retired the IMb Tracing system Dec. 31. In the preceding months, the organization worked with IMb Tracing users to move to the new system.

The Informed Visibility Mail Tracking and Reporting site has more information.

Postmaster Lincoln

List Lincoln

To mark Presidents Day, here are five facts about a Postmaster who later became a commander in chief: Abraham Lincoln.

1. Lincoln was a youthful Postmaster. The future president was 24 when he was appointed Postmaster of New Salem, IL, in May 1833. He served until the office closed in May 1836.

2. His annual salary is public record. The U.S. Official Register, published in odd-numbered years, dutifully records “A. Lincoln” as receiving compensation of $55.70 in fiscal year 1835 and $19.48 for one quarter’s work in fiscal 1837.

3. His job wasn’t without perks. Besides his pay, Postmaster Lincoln could send and receive personal letters free and get one daily newspaper delivered free.

4. He delivered mail, too. Mail arrived at the New Salem Post Office once a week, delivered on a route that ran from Springfield, IL, to Millers Ferry, IL. If addressees didn’t collect their mail at the Post Office, which was customary, Lincoln delivered it personally — usually carrying the mail in his hat.

5. Yes, Abe was honest even then. About $18 was left in the New Salem Post Office’s coffers when it closed in 1836, so Lincoln held onto the money. When a government agent later visited Lincoln to collect the funds, the future president, who was financially strapped at the time, retrieved the money from a trunk and presented it to the agent.

The Postal History usps.com page has information on other famous postal workers, including the only other president who also served as Postmaster: Harry Truman. Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to uspslink@usps.gov.