The Nation: Letters from Somewhere

Once a casual outline of a running chicken carved on a bottle cork could serve as a postmark. Then came names, and now, in the name of efficiency, postal authorities have begun to do away with place names. Under a system known as Area Mail Processing, mail is picked up and taken directly off to distribution centers where huge, highspeed letter sorters shuffle through thousands of pieces formerly handled by local post offices. Instead of postmarking a letter with the name of the town where it was mailed, the AMP machines simply stamp envelopes with the phrase "U.S. Postal Service," followed...

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