Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mail Lady Chrystler

This morning in SoBe the "Mail Lady" car was parked in front of the 13th Street Post Office, which was built in 1937 during the Great Depression. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the champion and key planner of Social Security was Secretary of the Treasury.

The U.S. MAIL sign on the dashboard signifies official business. I don't know the Mail Lady's official title. The sign may allow her free parking.

Morgenthau's name and Postmaster James Farley's are carved on a plaque at the front of the building, along with other names and the date, which I take pleasure in repeating--1937--and placing before our year: 2011. Styles change. It's a worn-out truism that appearances deceive. Yet we choose how to appear, how to present ourselves. The Mail Lady presents herself in a red Chrystler: "Mail Lady" in an auto drama starring the car and herself. She's made herself a character and given the character a name. (I don't know her other names.) What was she thinking, if she was thinking? Flaunt it? Look, I made it! Is that what she means? Tell me, what do you think? I was shocked, though I love red.

On the way home I saw this chalk drawing of a truck the rain will wash away.


  1. Ostentatious, hubristic, self-indulgent, vain, selfish, gaudy, vulgar, clueless, crass ... am I getting warm?

  2. i think the red chrysler is sort of fabulous. especially in the context of what some might consider a dreary job. i have, in my day, seen a number of charmingly eccentric women who work for the post office; most recently, a woman in the Water Mill (a hamlet of Easthampton, Long Island) post office, whose name was Ruby. she wore the requisite boxy PO vest, which was totally covered with smashingly gaudy rhinestone brooches; she wore gorgeous long dangly earrings, outrageous fingernail polish and bright, bright fuchsia lipstick. i plum fell in love with Ruby on the spot. i wished i lived there and could see her every day.

  3. P.C. and Susan:

    I'm back and forth between these points of view. Henry Morgenthau was wealthy--way beyond a postal worker's salary--but like those of his class wore subdued colors and as far as I know would never drive an expensive red car. I've learned that Mail Lady's car is a Chrystler 600. I like high style, vivid color, etc. I especially like the way women brighten themselves up. Still, if it were me, I wouldn't stick my luxe, super luxe car in the faces of all the poor who line up at this post office, even though Mail Lady is poor compared to the likes of the Morganthau, Roosevelt, and Farley families.

    Hoping to hear more thoughts,

  4. What makes you think that the car is paid for and really "hers"? People go into big debt not only for houses they cannot afford, but cars. Is this news? I am sure that the issues you imply would never occur to the downtrodden you so care about. They are worried about their own car payments. I am under the heel of a lender myself.

    Miriam, you have become a New Englander. Lighten up! I love the gawdiness.

  5. That is part of our culture -- exterior presentations to falsify the truth. I too view such customs or should I call it rituals with distaste but I too am part of the culture -- which came first, the chicken or the egg. -- barbara

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  7. Bluedog: Have I really become a New Englander?! How did this happen to a woman from northern gritty New Jersey?! As a teenager I used to dream of driving a Jaguar, one of those low-slung models. Mail Lady is into her car all the way. Truth is I don't know her story, only the appearance of her Big Red Chrysler.

    Folkways: Some days I feel I am my lipstick.

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