A teenage boy puts his money and faith in an envelope and sends away for a baseball board game. Parents await the mail, hoping for a letter from their son who is in basic training. An 11-year-old girl from Germany feels less homesick when she gets mail from the family she left behind. A family dog becomes a letter carrier's friend, helping to deliver the mail.
We asked Act 2 readers to share their best U.S. Postal Service stories. Here are a few. For more, go to newsday.com/act2.
Dioenis D. Perez, Carle Place
My story begins in the summer of 1972 as a 13-year-old boy. The summers of my youth were spent playing baseball, Wiffle ball and stick ball on the streets, then cooling off in the swimming pool of my next-door neighbor.
One July day, while reading the Sporting News, I saw an ad for a game called "Strat-O-Matic Baseball." It was advertised to be lifelike. I just had to have it! I saved up my allowance and I followed the instructions on where to mail the money and took a chance.
Without my mother's knowledge, I borrowed her stamps, but I had no idea what it would cost to mail this letter filled with a lot of loose change and a couple of dollar bills. I placed about five stamps on the envelope. I didn't tell my parents or my friends. I sealed the envelope and waited for our mailman to arrive.
He was like clockwork. Every day, he would arrive at noon sharp, wearing his postal uniform, a tie and big military-like hat. He always said, "Hello," and greeted me with a smile. He took my envelope and placed it in his leather carrier cart and said, "See you tomorrow."
I had no idea how long this process would take, but I was excited about my letter's adventure to Strat-O-Matic headquarters in Glen Head from Carle Place. Every day for about two weeks I waited for the secret baseball game to arrive. I had no idea where Glen Head was.
Finally, the day came. I was sitting on my front steps as I always did before my mother called me in for lunch. My mailman called to me from two houses down, waving his arm while holding my package. "I have something for you today!!" I was ecstatic. This miracle letter with money in it was about to deliver so much anticipated pleasure in the form of a baseball game based on statistical data.
The rectangle-shaped package was wrapped in brown paper. I thanked him, and off I zoomed into my house with a smile so huge that my mother asked me what was in the box. I said, "It's a baseball game I ordered in the mail." She was surprised, but to my amazement, I wasn't grilled as to how I paid for or ordered it.
I played this game for hours on end, day after day, by myself at first. Then I showed my close friends the game. That was the first of many summers encompassing our childhood years, all the way thorough our late 20s, when we would play marathons of Strat-O-Matic baseball games. The U.S. Mail would deliver our new teams every year without fail, along with a friendly smile from the mailman that didn't cost an extra cent.
Currently, I'm the postmaster of the Oyster Bay Post Office. Who would have thought this 40 years ago?
Kathy Mazza, Setauket
The best thing my husband, Al, and I ever received in the mail were real letters (not emails!) from our son, Christopher, while he was at Fort Benning in 2010 for basic training and infantry training.
My obsession with "Did the mail come yet?" became something of a family joke -- and I wrote more letters each week than I had written in years. These letters are one of my favorite things -- reading them over reminds me of how much he learned and grew in those few months, and his wonderful sense of humor shines through as he describes his "adventure." A personal favorite: encountering wild boars during nightime land navigation. He's now stationed in California. It's wonderful to be able to talk to him on the phone, send emails or see his status updates on Facebook, but I'll always remember fondly the happiness we felt when the mailman delivered an update from Georgia.
Audrey and Tom Geisbusch, Miller Place
One of my best memories concerning the U.S. Postal Service involved our dog Dallas, a yellow Lab, and our mailman John. Dallas loved to retrieve things. He started by bringing in the newspaper every morning, then he got the idea he could bring in the mail, too. He would recognize the sound of the mail truck and sprint to the mailbox and wait. Our postman didn't know what to make of it at first, so I encouraged him to give the dog our junk mail. He did, and Dallas gently took it from him and brought it to the door. We all got a kick out of it.
This went on for 12 years, and John and Dallas became good friends. John would always ask about him and include his name on the annual Christmas card.
One day, while we weren't paying attention, Dallas ran away! We were devastated, and panicked trying to find him. Just then, John showed up, and we told him Dallas ran away. John said he would find him, did a U-turn, and went looking. Well, I wish I had a camera ready. Within a few minutes, John returned with Dallas sitting next to him in the mail truck, grinning (if that is possible for a dog). I will never forget the look on the dog's face and how happy John was that he was able to bring him home.
A few years later, when Dallas passed away, we knew it hurt his friend John as much as it hurt us. Thank you to John and the U.S. Postal Service.
Isabelle McFadden, Wantagh
I am 89 years old, and all my life I look forward to my mail. I get bills, magazines, political letters, money-wanted letters for animals and cancer (research), from friends and on and on. I treasure my mail, it makes my life interesting. I have had several of the best mailmen ever, polite, kind and very careful with mail. I do not believe a mailman gets enough credit or kindness for all he does in all kinds of weather. I know when I get letters from friends that they love me, to take time out and write to me. It's personal, not like emails. Getting mail is a privilege, despite what a stamp costs.
Ronald Raynor, Bay Shore
I am proud to be one of the people to deliver many memories in my route. I have been a letter carrier for these last 27 years. When these little girls or boys receive a card or gift from their loved ones, the reaction on their faces is priceless. The older couples waiting to see me every day to drop off their mail and have our little talks make both our days so much better.
I was in charge of the letter carrier's one-day food drive in May, and we raised 443,000 pounds of food for the hungry on Long Island. It makes us feel really good when we can help the community.
Karen Paulick, Cutchogue
In 1996, I had to have a liver transplant. Since I lived on Long Island and the hospital was in Pittsburgh, my friends and family couldn't visit. I had to live in Pittsburgh for a month after the transplant. The cards and mail I received daily meant so much to me. My husband and I had to rent an apartment, and the big excitement each day was going down the elevator to the mailbox in the lobby.
My only means of communication from home was the daily mail. I cherished all the cards and letter in a box for years. The mail gave me moral and emotional support. I don't know what I would have done without the mail!
Charlene Straceski, Whitestone
At a low time in our lives during World War II, letters arrived from family and friends in the service, reassuring us they were OK, and a photo of them would be enclosed. A special beau wooed me with his letters, and I married him at war's end.
Though many of these wonderful people are no longer with us, I merely have to look through my photo albums to bring back memories that the U.S. Postal Service helped make possible, and for an 84-year-old widow, that is one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.
Rosemarie Dyrssen, Farmingdale
I am an immigrant from Germany who came to the United States at age 11 and was homesick, missing all the friends and relatives left behind. I depended on letters, postcards and packages from overseas. It made me feel better and made my adjustment much easier.
Now I'm 70 years old and still look out at the mailbox to find mail coming in from Germany and other places in the U.S. It is a very special and exciting feeling. I hope that our local post office will never close.