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Jewish World Review March 13, 2001 / 18 Adar, 5761

Paul Gottbrath

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Consumer Reports

Help deliver a 92 year-old letter -- CINCINNATI -- Who was Posey Cullen and how did the postcard mailed to her 92 years ago wind up in the bowels of the Cincinnati Post Office?

The card, in good condition except for two crimped corners, was found last week as workers were moving machinery at a Post Office mail processing plant.

The card's post date of 3 p.m. Feb. 23, 1909 - some 27 years before the building was constructed - guarantees that the story behind it is more than just another tale of misplaced mail.

The card is addressed to "Miss Posey Cullen, Hopkinsville, Ky., c/o Bethel College."

It bears two messages.

On the address side: "Dear Little Laidy, How are you, alright I hope. Received your card and was very glad to hear from you. How is school?"

On the reverse side, written in a steadier hand: "Have been talking to Kate. Think they are all well. Would like to see you. Lovingly, Maude."

On the postmark, "Ky." is clearly visible; the town name appears to be "B(undecipherable)skford."

The only Kentucky town similar to that is Blackford, a hamlet of 400 people in Western Kentucky that used to be called "Blacksford," said Dave Schroeder, local history librarian in Covington, Ky. But that doesn't establish a connection to Cincinnati, more than 200 miles away.

Bonni Manies, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said it's uncertain how the card came to be at the post office. It could have been concealed in equipment or furniture moved into the new building 65 years ago, or it might have gotten stuck to another piece of mail sent there for processing. Or perhaps it was a family heirloom a postal worker brought in to show off and misplaced.

"Whatever the case, it's mail and it needs to get home," Manies said.

The only reference to Posey Cullen in Bethel College archives stored at Hopkinsville Community College is that she graduated in 1910, said Suzanne Greenfield of the Christian County Historical Society.

Bethel College was founded in Hopkinsville, west of Bowling Green, in 1854 as a Baptist high school for girls. It was rechartered in 1890 as Bethel Female College, became a junior college in 1917 and closed in 1964, said Joe Woosley, who delivered papers on campus as a third grader and later attended the school for a year and a half.

There are no Cullens listed in a family directory for Christian County, in which Hopkinsville is the county seat, said Vada Nevels, family historian for the public library there. "Those girls who went to school at Bethel came from all over Kentucky, so she was not necessarily local," she said.

It's not rare for mail to get misplaced and find its way back into the postal stream years later. Manies cited the case last year of mail from Georgia mailed in the 1930s that turned up in Cincinnati.

Whenever that happens, the Postal Service tries to determine if there is still someone to whom that mail should be forwarded.

Paul Gottbrath writes for the Cincinnati Post. Comment by clicking here.


© 2001, SHNS