If these images are anything to go by, there was no higher calling in mid-century America than that of custodian and distributor of the nation’s mail. Teams of craggy faced functionaries held communities together with benevolence, integrity and kindly wisdom. No mail carrier was too busy to spare the time to engage with the public, offering sympathy, encouragement and bonhomie with every delivery. In today’s world of neo-liberal economic orthodoxy none of this is remotely affordable and if the U.S. Postal Service gets its way the mail carrier’s duties will soon be limited to a high speed drive-by with correspondence stuffed into “curbside mailboxes”. When these images were published the postal service was still the gateway to romance and tragedy, to opportunity and penury and our final illustration shows a hapless recipient of bad news, stunned by what he has just read.