News of the Week: Snail Mail, Shatner in Space, and 60 Years of The Dick Van Dyke Show

In the news for the week ending October 8, 2021, are post office changes, a store that hasn’t changed in 60 years, a change of location for William Shatner, and more.

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Instead of a Text, Write a Letter

Do you still use snail mail? I know you still probably receive mail — I’m guessing bills, shopping flyers, and coupons — but I’m wondering if you still send out mail, paying your bills or (gasp!) sending letters to friends or family?

I still send out many pieces of mail every month. I pay some bills that way, I send thank you notes, and I even send handwritten letters to people (letters are my social media). I do a lot of stuff online too, but only what I have to do online, such as sending payments to online-only companies, some banking, and sending these columns to my editors every week (they won’t let me dictate it from a phone booth like I’ve seen in 1940s newspaper dramas).

Last Friday, the USPS not only started to slow down delivery of some of the first class mail we send out (mail that used to take three days will now take five), they raised the prices to send that mail. It’s all part of a ten-year plan to streamline the post office and to hopefully stop the financial bleeding it has been suffering for so long (though some say it’s not entirely the post office’s fault).

Now, people will say, “See, this is why I don’t use the mail. They keep raising the prices and it takes so long!” Well, maybe they wouldn’t be having some of these problems if you used the mail more instead of relying on email, texts, and Facebook. (On a related note, you may soon be able to pay your bills and access cash at the post office.)

But no matter what it costs, it’s pretty amazing that we can send a letter from Maine and it gets all the way to California in just a few days or so. So write a letter to someone you don’t see or talk to that much. Not only will you put a smile on their face when they get their mail, you’ll be helping to save the post office.

To Boldly Go, etc.

The rumors turned out to be true. Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, will be part of the crew when Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket takes off on October 12. At 90, he’ll be the oldest person ever to go into space.

If Shatner thinks of it and wants to make classic TV fans happy, he should look out the window at some point and proclaim, “THERE’S A MAN OUT THERE!”

The Melting Emoji

To me, this new addition to the series of pictures that help us express our emotions instead of using actual words looks more like melting cheese, which puts me in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich.

This Store Is Frozen in 1963

Take a tour of the store that closed its doors in 1963 … and hasn’t been disturbed since! All of the merchandise and decor are exactly as they were almost 60 years ago. This is a fascinating episode of Destination Adventure. (Bonus: at 10:53 our sister magazine The Country Gentleman makes an appearance!)

Headband of the Week

Jeff Horwitz, a technology reporter for The Wall Street Journal, has done a lot of great work recently on stories involving Facebook. And not just Monday through Friday. In this pic, it looks like he’s working for the weekend.

RIP Alan Kalter, Tony Mendez, George Frayne, Michael Tylo, Cynthia Harris, Eddie Robinson, Lucille Times, and Mike Rienzi

Alan Kalter and Tony Mendez were regulars on The Late Show with David Letterman. Kalter was the announcer from 1995 until Dave retired in 2015, and he also participated in many sketches. Mendez was the cue card guy who also appeared on camera a lot and hosted one of the show’s podcasts. Kalter, who was also the announcer on many games shows and commercials, died Monday at the age of 78. Mendez died in July at the age of 76.

George Frayne was the leader of the alt-country cult band Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Their cover of Charlie Ryan’s “Hot Rod Lincoln” made the top ten. He died last month at the age of 77.

Michael Tylo was best known as archaeologist Quint Chamberlain on Guiding Light. He also appeared on several other soap operas and in the 1990s adventure series Zorro. He later taught at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He died last week at the age of 72.

Cynthia Harris played Paul Reiser’s mom on Mad About You and had roles on shows like Rescue Me, L.A. Law, Sirota’s Court, Ann Jillian, the Edward and Mrs. Simpson miniseries, and Husbands, Wives, and Lovers. She also did a series of commercials as “Mrs. B.” for the Bradlee’s department store chain from the ’70s until the late ’90s. She died Sunday at the age of 87.

Eddie Robinson was the oldest living former major league baseball player. He played first base for the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees in the ’40s and ’50s and then went on to be a coach, executive, and scout. He died Monday at the age of 100.

Six months before Rosa Parks, Lucille Times helped start a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, after an altercation with the same bus driver. She died last month at the age of 100.

Besides leading his own band and serving as the musical director on Sesame Street for a decade, Mike Rienzi worked with such people as Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Jack Jones, Eartha Kitt, Ruth Brown, and Lena Horne. He died last week at the age of 80.

This Week in History

Lincoln Issues Thanksgiving Proclamation (October 3, 1863)

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

The Dick Van Dyke Show Premieres (October 3, 1961)

This isn’t just one of the best TV shows of all time, it’s one of the reasons I became a writer.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Schaefer Beer and Pizza (October 3, 1959)

Ad for Schaefer beer and pizza
October 3, 1959

I haven’t thought of this commercial jingle in years, but now I can’t get it out of my head. “Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.”

October Is National Pizza Month

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve never liked beer with my pizza. Yes, it’s a classic combo — practically up there with peanut butter and jelly, or Dick Van Dyke and ottomans — but it has never appealed to me. I don’t like drinking alcohol with my meals. I’ll take soda or milk or water but never beer or booze.

But you can drink what you want as you eat Curtis Stone’s Great Homemade Pizza or this Upside-Down Pan Pizza. Bon Appétit has a Hawaiian Pizza with BBQ Sauce and Beef Bacon (yes, it has pineapple on it), and Serious Eats has this Detroit-Style Pepperoni Pizza. If for some reason you only want to make one slice of pizza, try this recipe from Ree Drummond.

If you want to stick with the pizza theme all the way through dessert, how about this Chocolate Chip Cookie Pizza from Sally’s Baking Addiction?

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Columbus Day (October 11)

Many people now call it Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

125th Boston Marathon (October 11)

The race usually takes place on Patriots’ Day in April (not to be confused with Patriot Day on September 11), but because of COVID-19 it will now take place this Monday.

NHL Season Begins (October 12)

The first game will feature reigning champs the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins. It airs on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. Oh yes, Indigenous Peoples’ Day: sometime this afternoon, I heard a radio announcer read the weather forecast for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. A few minutes ago, he was back, sounding like a ten year old boy who has been properly put in his place by the teacher. He read the weather forecast for Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

    I will not celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. ( One thing which should give us hope is that these monstrous Woke lunatics are so tin eared. )

    I will celebrate Columbus Day.

    Come and get me, G – man.

  2. An excellent idea about Shatner, sir.

    The USPS in failure: if I were to send a birthday card to the nice fellow next door, he’d probably get it, but not before it had gone to a city a hundred miles away. I’m sure this system was designed by a transportation engineering genius. We just haven’t caught up with its brilliance yet.

  3. From what I’ve read, the USPS has always been in trouble of one kind or another. I can attest to the slowness of the mail. I mailed my HOA check from West Hills to Westlake Village (15 miles away) on Thurs. 9/30, with it not arriving until Thurs. 10/7. Really? YES! With gas being in the mid $4 range I’m not driving it there. Note to self: mail things a week early from now on. A late fee because it was after the 5th? No. I talked my way out of it.

    I hope the flight goes well because I really do like Shatner. If it were just Bezos, his phallic rocket could either crash or just go into oblivion. Is our tax $$ funding this one too? Probably. 113 billion just “isn’t enough”. Very good YouTube of William. I want to see the whole thing. If I saw what he did out that plane window, I’d be freaking out too!

    The melting emoji reminds me of some TIME magazine covers of the former President. So sick of hearing about cheese Bob! I said so in Dr. Zipes Oct. 4th feature on it being unhealthy. I swear Mary Tyler Moore seems like a different actress on her own series; especially from Season 3 onward. I’ve said it before, but I’d love the novelty of seeing one episode of her show in black & white. It’ll never happen unless I get a b & w TV, I know.

    Love the Schaefer Beer ad. It definitely looks like it’s from a later section of the 50’s. I wonder if Bob Peak did the artwork on that one. Hmmm.


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