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United States/Covers & Postmarks : On The Road Again!

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
20 May 2017
01:30:42pm

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Another Central New Jersey adventure! I usually work from home on Friday. This week was different because we were working on presentation materials for Monday. So we were in the office in New Brunswick. We finished up around 2pm and everyone headed out. I knew this would be an early day.. originally forecast to be no later than lunch time, but what the hey.

So I had set a route of four post offices in the general area, some towns I had breezed through before and some where I never had been off the main highways. All of them are in Middlesex County.

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New Brunswick is the old city and home to Rutgers University. There is also North Brunswick, East Brunswick and South Brunswick. Funny thing is that the city line for New and North runs across my company's property. So we headed in the suburbs of East Brunswick in search of the post office. This is one of those towns where I cannot believe I don't have a postmark. It's seven miles from the office and about a 20 minute ride.

I had never really thought how large East Brunswick was and thought it was all built up with those 1950s and 1960s housing developments. As I drove towards Cranbury Road on Ryders Lane, I was surprised at how much shopping center construction had taken place since I last had taken this route. I also took note of all the nice development houses along the road, that originally bought on a country lane, never expecting to someday live on a four lane major road.

Once on Cranbury Road it became a bit more rural, but with several high end housing developments in progress. As part of my travels is to scout out a nice area to move back to New Jersey, I made note to look into East Brunswick. My Waze program easily directed me to the post office where I met minor resistance from the counter clerk. She read the regulation I carry with me and gave me the nice cancel you see here.

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Next stop was Helmetta, which was only a 3 mile, 6 minute ride. This is a town I'd seen on the map, but never had investigated. It's a typical New Jersey mill town. The town was founded around the G. W. Helme Snuff Mill that was built in 1880 in East Brunswick. The factory was the main employer in town and at it's peak employed over 400 people. It was closed in 1993.

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The town was created on March 20, 1888, as it broke off with East Brunswick in a dispute over services. The town was named for Olivia Antoinette "Etta" Helme, daughter of the factory founder. Above is a photo of the closed mill, but I'm happy to report that when I drove past it, it was a vibrant hub of activity. It is undergoing a transformation into 200 apartment units. It's a great preservation of the sturdy brick buildings.

Overall, the town is reported to be a great place to live, with about 800 families and a zero crime rate. It's a mix of the original homes built for workers by the factory, homes built over the last century and a spurt of developments in the 1990s.

Here's an article on Helmetta from the New York times in 2000:

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/03/26/realestate/if-you-re-thinking-living-helmetta-nj-middlesex-county-s-version-mayberry.html

We easily found the Helmetta post office and we encountered no resistance to receiving our coveted post mark.

From Helmetta, we headed to another one of those little towns, Dayton, New Jersey. The travel was 6 miles on country roads.

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Dayton is one of those older towns I want to return to for a relaxing wander. It's an unincorporated section of South Brunswick, but retains it's identity with it's own post office and zip code. The town was named after Jonathan Dayton, the youngest person to sign the United States Constitution. He later served as a US Senator.

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The Dayton post office is typical USPS 1960s architecture, and it sits next to an equally forgettable 1960s strip mall. The rest of the town has interesting older architecture.

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This historic inn building in the center of Dayton is currently an Italian restaurant. We encountered no resistance in receiving our Dayton postmark.

The final leg of our journey proved to be the most interesting stop of my travels. I new there were two towns, Franklin Park and Kendall Park in the same general area. I found a listing for each on the USPS website, and an anomaly that showed them at the same dot on the USPS map. This was a 5 mile / 15 minute ride from Dayton. I found the address for Kendall Park and figured I'd ask where the Franklin Park office was from the personnel. When I got there I found:

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A very interesting, new building! It is actually BOTH post offices. and that's my little red convertible parked out front. Yea, top up since it was 95 degrees!

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Once inside, the clerk did confirm that this was BOTH post offices. I asked what cancel she had and she said it was Kendall Park. She balked at giving me a cancellation even after I showed her the regulation. I nicely asked if she had a manager and she went to the back. A funny thing.. my cover was still on the counter and I saw the cancel device in front of her. She picked it up and took it with her... as if I was going to quickly cancel my cover and run!

The superior came to the front, smiled and said it was okay to assist me. Now she was very friendly. So I got my cover cancelled.

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Then she engaged me in a conversation about stamp collecting, and I suspected there wasn't a Franklin Park cancel and I was ready to strike it off my list. She said there was and scurried off, returning with one. After she cancelled the cover we noticed it wasn't dated correct, which was just fine for the collection. This is the first time I received two different unique town cancels at the very same counter.

Townwise, Kendall Park is an area within South Brunswick. I was named after Herbert Kendall, a developer who built 1500 homes here starting in 1956. The post office was established in 1960.

Franklin Park is an area of Franklin Township, which is in Somerset County. Both towns are adjacent to each other along Route 27. Franklin Park has a long history, originally called "Six Mile Run", which was named for the tributary of the Millstone River that flows through the area. IT served as the first site of the Somerset County Courthouse and jail from 1714 until 1737 when a fire destroyed the building.

In the late 19th century in addition to the Beekman's Hotel and another known as Manley's Hotel and the Six Mile Run Reformed Church, the community included a wagon factory, blacksmith, wheelwright, butcher, hay scales, ice house, a school, and a general store called Hullfish's Store, as well as residences for about 110 people.
Today many of the historic commercial buildings are gone but newer commercial buildings have taken their place to serve the rapidly growing population in the surrounding area.

That was the end of our planned route for the day. All told I made four successful stops in two hours, so it was a half hour per post office. That included travel time, waiting on lines and talking with people. And we got five new covers for the collection! A good afternoon indeed!

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philb
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20 May 2017
06:16:44pm

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re: On The Road Again!

Interesting post ! David Giles often sends me U.S. stamps that he receives uncancelled on mail and asks me to "please cancel" for his used U.S. collection...i take them to the post office a few at a time because i never know what kind of reception i am going to receive. By this point they probably see me as an old eccentric.

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