Chester Martin: A Tiny Bit Of Chattanooga's Postal History On An Old Post Card

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - by Chester Martin

The picture shows evidence of at least four small items of local postal interest:  #1 - the postmark reads, "CHATT ROME ATLANTA" with the word "TRIO" under the date. "Trio" refers to the three post offices indicated, and the trilogy of names indicates a postal "star route", of which there were others in my dad's 41 years at the local post office (1913-1954).

#2 -Star routes were "cream of the crop" jobs for postal workers in my father's time, and one letter-carrier made the entire circuit by truck in one day. That meant that Atlanta and Rome had "next day delivery" from Chattanooga - a feature that lasted for many years, though brand new in 1917. Bear in mind that roads were much poorer in those days, and that a route from Chattanooga to Rome, to Atlanta, and back to Chattanooga might easily consume an entire day.

#3 -An increase in the number of star routes was made possible by the ending of World War One.   Seems the country had over-prepared for a much longer stay in the European war zone, and there were many war vehicles which were either brand new or "gently used", so that they could be easily freshened up with Post Office khaki colors and re-distributed throughout the entire country. When Chattanooga got its new fleet of Model "A" postal vehicles after that war, few people could drive. Cars were still "a dream away" for the average person. To my dad's good fortune he already had a car of his own and was able to drive. He therefore became Chattanooga's very first "mounted" letter carrier.

#4 -Note the address: The Post Card is addressed to my dad, W. B. Martin, at his long-time residence (before marrying), at "816 1/2 Georgia Avenue", which would be the Ross Hotel, still standing today, over 100 years later, in 2018. It is the building on the north side of Patten Parkway, which faces on Georgia Avenue. (He liked to point his former window out to us - his family - though I have long forgotten which one it was). From the Ross Hotel he could easily walk to work over on East 11th Street where the "old" post office building is also still in daily use. (The much newer post office of the early 1940s is even closer to the Ross Hotel, but is now re-named the "Joel Solomon Federal Building").

Although not of any special local interest, the ONE CENT STAMP might be of more general interest, for in my early life you could send an ordinary (sealed) letter of one ounce or less for 3 cents. And you could mail unsealed Christmas cards for one and a half cents. (They were sold either in rolls or books of 3 cent increments). "Penny Post Cards" were quite the rage!

Please note that the green color of the stamp in the picture does not "sing out" so brightly as in the original, as I have darkened the entire image to make it more legible.

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Chester Martin is a native Chattanoogan who is a talented painter, sculptor and artisan as well as local historian. He and his wife, Pat, live in Brainerd. Mr. Martin can be reached at cymppm@comcast.net.


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