I recently found this letter among my grandmother’s mementos and I thought it was a fun little treasure. It’s the only thing I have ever seen written by my 2nd great-grandmother, Edna Earley Barbour (1875-1961). My grandmother collected stamps her whole life and I know Grandma Barbour got her started. She especially loved stamps from other countries and this letter provides just a glimpse into their shared hobby.
The letter was part of the Pan Am Air Mail Test, which took place on 1 Nov 1946. In celebration of the first day of a significantly reduced airmail postage prices and in order to promote Pan Am’s airmail services, the company agreed to send mail marked as “test” to one of the countries included in the new rates and would return it to the sender’s address at the company’s expense. The idea was that customers would marvel at the speed their letters arrived back at them and begin sending more international mail. But for many, it was just an opportunity to receive an exotic postage stamp!
I can’t tell how long it took for my grandmother to receive the letter, but according to the post mark it only took 5 days to travel from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania to Cayenne, French Guiana!
Oct 30th 1946
This letter to you will go a long, long way to reach you, not that you are so far away but just for the fun of it. And since the “Pan Am World Air-ways Mail Fleet” is generous enough to carry it back to you for nothing and then who knows when you are as old as Grand Mother there might be a premium on its stamp. So keep it in your safe box for long years to come.
According to the date halloween is about here and I’m wondering if you will be out dressed like Uncle Sam or Jim Crow or maybe a fairy princess.
Well, even if you are only 12 miles from me, I guess I’ll not be up to see you.
One week from to-nite uncle John [Beattie Barbour (1906-1995)] will be here. Hurrah! Come down and help us enjoy his visit.
With much love,
Grand Mother Barbour
Now take a good look at the date on this env. and see how long it took this letter to get back. Then look at a map and see just how far away it went.