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Re: "Neither Rain, Nor Sleet..."

Posted by RRC on October 14, 2006

In Reply to: Re: "Neither Rain, Nor Sleet..." posted by R. Berg on October 14, 2006

: : : : : : "Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor gloom of night" What is the rest of the Postal Oath? This is only part of it.

: : : : : Looked on the U.S. Postal Service site. Didn't find the answer. But I found this fascinating fact:

: : : : : Did You Know?

: : : : : When the million-dollar Hope Diamond was donated to the Smithsonian Institution, it was mailed from New York City to Washington, D.C., in a brown paper parcel.

: : : : I found the answer via cache from Wise Sayings.com. I tried to go to the original site and link but it appears to be down. Pity. It looks like a cool site.

: : : : As a Matter of Fact (Facts about wise old sayings and their authors)

: : : : Many of us have heard the postal carriers' motto in one form or another. One popular version is "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds".

: : : : The original saying was actually "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" and was said about 2500 years ago by the Greek historian, Herodotus. He said this adage during the war between the Greeks and Persians about 500 B.C. in reference to the Persian mounted postal couriers whom he observed and held in high esteem.

: : : : Today many people believe this saying to be the U.S. Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) motto, but, in fact, is not their official slogan. According to the U.S.P.S. they have no slogan at all. The reason it has become identified with the U.S.P.S. is because back in 1896-97 when the New York City General Post Office was being designed, Mitchell Kendal, an employee for the architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White, came up with the idea of engraving Herodotus' saying all around the outside of the building. From that time on the saying has been associated with U.S. postal carriers. (Another McKim, Mead and White building is the Boston Public Library in Copley Square.)

: : : : (Source: Bob Cannon, Public Affairs and Communications Officer for the U.S. Postal Service in Boston, MA.)

: : : " The building, bearing the inscription: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," is a national historic landmark, and occupies two full city blocks.

: : : The inscription was supplied by William Mitchell Kendall of the firm of McKim, Mead & White, the architects who designed the Farley Building and the original Pennsylvania Station in the same Beaux Arts style. Kendall said the sentence appears in the works of Herodotus and describes the expedition of the Greeks against the Persians under Cyrus, about 500 B.C. The Persians operated a system of mounted postal couriers, and the sentence describes the fidelity with which their work was done."

: : : Farley Post Office building http://www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/MID133.htm Accessed October 14, 2006.

: : Re the Hope Diamond: when my husband worked in UK postal customs in London about 20 years ago, it was normal practice for London diamond traders to send and receive consignments of diamonds through the ordinary Royal Mail post. Apparently this was actually safer than sending them via private courier services, as a delivery arranged by courier could be tracked and a robbery set up, but once a small brown paper parcel went into a post box, there was no way criminals could find it en route to its destination!

: The link below goes to a multipart biography of Ira Schnapp, who carved the motto on the New York post office. Besides stonecarving, he had a long career in lettering and logo design at DC Comics. ~rb

FWIW, go to Google and enter -- gloom site:www.usps.com -- and it will find 2 pages of references to the unofficial m otto on their website.