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Curator's Corner - Sat., Oct. 6, 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, October 08, 2012 8:51 AM

As you are sitting there sipping your morning coffee, 40-plus local residents are scampering around packing their bags for our New York City Trip. As the song goes they will be seeing the Eastside, Westside and all around the town — but I doubt they’ll have five minutes to play ring-around-the-rosey. The weather and scenery are supposed to be gorgeous — with Pennsylvania and Central Park in full Autumn color.
But I promised to tell you more about mail delivery and mail jumpers. If you thought my description of pail mail sounded dangerous wait until you read this. I know of at least two places that mail jumpers have been employed. Lake Geneva in Wisconsin and on Skaneateles Lake in the Finger Lakes region of the state of New York. OK, what’s a mail jumper? I can tell you it is not something originally made for females to wear and is now available in a “male” version. As with most things in life, it is exactly what it says it is. These are people who sort the mail at the local post office for both of these lakes and then they deliver the mail from a boat. You’ve got to picture this. The boat does not stop during its 2 1/2-hour cruise around the lake. The mail jumper stands on the bow of the boat and jumps onto the dock, runs over to the mailbox and retrieves any outgoing mail and places the patron’s mail in the box. Meantime the boat is still moving at about 5 mph and the mail jumper has to jump onto the stern. Then he or she (yes they employ females as well) runs back up to the front of the boat where the mail is and retrieve the mail for the next stop. There really isn’t a great deal of time that the carrier has to get ready for their next jump. (Can’t really call it a stop can we?)
When you think about the life of a letter carrier you think of the normal obstacles like dogs, bees, snow, etc. But when you think about a mail jumper what about painted wet docks, or slippery conditions on the boat from rain or even water blowing up on the dock. Think about the hoses laying on the docks from washing down the boats, chairs, fishing poles and all the other equipment that could be in their way. It is reported that mail jumpers average about one miss every summer season. The sad part about that is they have to work wet all day.
These routes only take place in the summer months in these resort areas for the 60 or so residents that live on the waterfront. This practise stems from the late 1800s long before vehicles and roads were in the area. The mail boat route on Lake Geneva starts on June 15 and ends on Sept. 15th. One thing you need to understand these mail jumpers compete to get this job. First part of the job you already know about but they also have to be able to use the microphone and provide an interesting and engaging presentation to the tourists on the boat. The Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s current captain has been doing this route daily for over 50 years. The captain also pointed out that these folks had to be good swimmers as well for the times they would miss and would have to swim to catch up with the ship.
During the summer of 2009, Andrew Zimmern, the star of “Bizarre Foods” did part of an episode delivering mail on Lake Geneva. Zimmern made the leap to a few docks and was rewarded with an outgoing package of, you’ll never guess, bizarre foods. Check out the link below that shows some of the tryouts in 2011.
Today we are also kicking off our next MPH Tour which will be to Chicago on Nov. 30 the evening of  Dec. 2. We have been asked so many times about this trip we expect it to sell out quickly. Three days, two nights at the Courtyard right off Michigan Avenue in the Magnificent Mile. We’re providing dinner and a show, the opportunity to see the Chicago Bulls play the 76ers, Lincoln Park Conservatory, tons of shopping, Christmas lights, the Christkindl German Market and so much more. A $200 deposit per person will get you in the running for a seat and we will determine those eligible by the postmark. The remaining balance of $199 per person will be due on October 31, 2012. So mail us your check today. MPH Tours PO Box 174, Delphos OH 45833-0174. For more info leave a message at 419-303-5482 and I’ll call you from NYC.


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