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Canada/Other : Christmas 1898

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partsguy
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04 Dec 2020
08:15:19pm
Found an interesting image on reddit this evening:

https://www.reddit.com/r/philately/comments/k5cfx6/philatelic_advent_calendar/

(I can't upload the image, it is too large... if I shrink it, all the detail is lost)

Its a series of XMAS stamps postmarked from 7 December through 31 December 1898. I was confused, because there are Sunday postmarks included, including Christmas day. How exactly did they get a postal employee to work on Christmas Sunday?!?!?!?

Hopefully someone else enjoys this group as much as I do (this stamp design is one of my favorites), and can tell me more about the good ol' days of Sunday postage!
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FrequentFlyer
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05 Dec 2020
11:57:10am
re: Christmas 1898

Quote:

"How exactly did they get a postal employee to work on Christmas Sunday?!?!?!?"



I worked in the Omaha, Nebraska, post office during the early 1960s and the Main Post Office had employees working 24/7. Substitute clerks didn't have much say as to the hours or days they worked so they often filled in for the regulars on weekends and holidays and the odd hours of Tour 3.

Clerks with career appointments bid on assignment or "cases" and seniority generally determined success on a bid. Only the most senor clerks had assignments that included Saturday and Sunday off. I worked one case that had Monday and Tuesday off. Days off were spread throughout the week.

If a holiday fell during the regular work week, career status clerks who worked holidays got double pay or compensatory time off. That was incentive for many. If they wanted the holiday off and could be spared they took the holiday with regular pay.

Generally, supervisors tried to accommodate days off when needed or on holidays. Subs were not guaranteed any hours of work per week and were nearly always available to work as they wanted the hours.

That was 60 years ago. I don't have any idea how it works today, except I doubt there are many postal employees working Sundays or holidays these days.

FF
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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
05 Dec 2020
12:24:47pm
re: Christmas 1898

and the bottom line is that POs were open 7 days a week, including Christmas.

The 5-day work week is of recent vintage.

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partsguy
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05 Dec 2020
02:16:06pm
re: Christmas 1898

I am genuinely surprised that on "the sabbath" as well as Christmas, that it was business as usual in those days!!!!!
Would it only be the "behind the scenes" workers on-duty, or could the public just wander into their local PO to post an urgent missive on the Lord's Day?????

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lemaven
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05 Dec 2020
10:57:43pm
re: Christmas 1898

Also unusual are postmarks from New Year's Day (January 1st).

I have been lucky enough to find two (I think both were Great Britain from late 1800s/early1900s that I could send to my buddy Mel (a New Year's Day Baby - albeit not of the same vintage)!

Dave.

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FrequentFlyer
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06 Dec 2020
10:54:04am
re: Christmas 1898

Quote:

"I am genuinely surprised that on "the sabbath" as well as Christmas, that it was business as usual in those days!!!!!
Would it only be the "behind the scenes" workers on-duty, or could the public just wander into their local PO to post an urgent missive on the Lord's Day?????"



Sunday and holiday work was "behind the scenes," plus outside pick-ups from collection boxes. I don't remember there being a window open to the public in the main office on Sundays or holidays. During the last year I worked for the Omaha Post Office I was a substitute window clerk and filled in at the main office and the stations if a window clerk was on leave or off sick. To work a window one needed a cash drawer and stamp inventory, and a little training in postal rates, and registry and money order practices. While in that job, there was no Sunday window service that I was aware of with one exception, maybe two.

The PTS (Postal Transportation System) terminals at Council Bluffs and Omaha may have had an "on call ring-the-bell for service" window, I just don't remember or was not aware of it.

I once worked a two-week stint at the Omaha Airmail Facility, the other exception, and that had a window that was open 24/7 as I recall. There were only two clerks at the facility, a chief clerk and a flunky. I was the flunky and because I had a cash drawer and window training, I got to work the window from time to time I liked working window service, especially at the Airmail Facility because many of the customers there were airline employees and then the airline flight attendants were still all female and one of their selection criteria was physical attractiveness! Another selection criteria was their congeniality and they were most always all smiles and friendliness.

As for Sunday and holiday working hours, we didn't think much of it when I was working them, and, consider now the number of employees working in the fast food industry, shopping malls, big box stores and other retail establishments. They do it because its part of their jobs, as it was when I worked for the POD.

FF


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partsguy
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06 Dec 2020
11:14:50am
re: Christmas 1898

Thanks for the background info, FrequentFlyer!

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51Studebaker
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Dialysis, damned if you do...dead if you don't
06 Dec 2020
11:53:29am
re: Christmas 1898

Not sure about Canada but in the US, the 5 day work week was first adopted starting around 1908 but was the mid-1920s before it became more wide spread across the country.

And early (before 1900) US postmasters typically received little or even no pay, instead only getting 'free' franking privileges and 'status'. Many rural US postmasters were also the inn-keepers for the town, the mail coach stopped at the inn and dropped off the mail and newspaper. So being a postmaster was just part of the job and they work 24/7/365.
Don

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