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Glance At The Past

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This week’s feature shows a special envelope created for National Air Mail Week, held May 15 to 21, 1938.

The observance was special on a few fronts. It marked the 20th anniversary of the first time mail was carried by airplane between New York and Washington, D.C., on May 15, 1918. The U.S. Postal Service at the time formed committees in each congressional district to oversee observances. Ogdensburg Postmaster Arthur J. Belgard was chairman of the north country congressional district. Each county also had committee chairmen: Mark E. Monaghan of Malone in Franklin County, E.F. Cornwall of Alexandria Bay in Jefferson County, and Grace L. Sullivan of Canton in St. Lawrence County.

During the 1938 observance, for the first time mail was transported out of St. Lawrence County by air. The pilot, Dwight P. Church of Canton, scheduled stops in Ogdensburg, Canton, Potsdam, Massena, Hammond, Gouverneur, Alexandria Bay, Adams and Lowville en route to Syracuse for the first delivery.

The third note of interest is the message and art on the envelope. It was commissioned by the Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce and drawn by architect S.D.P. Williams, touting Ogdensburg’s economic advantages and promoting construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, also known then as the St. Lawrence Deep Water Way. There were 3,000 envelopes distributed for free among Ogdensburg businesses and residents, in hopes of them being sent all around the country to promote Ogdensburg and the proposed Seaway.

In an early May article that year, The Journal quoted Chamber President Clarence W. Skelly thusly: “This is an excellent opportunity to advertise the possibilities of Ogdensburg and the St. Lawrence River through the contemplated Seaway project and the vast power resources at our doors through the medium of Air Mail Week, and also manifests our friendly cooperation with the Postal Department in commemorating the 20th anniversary of transportation of mail by air. People all over the United States will be prompted by our resources as a result of the specially designed cachet, which we will use during National Air Mail Week.”

Furthermore, Mr. Skelly said, the aim of the message on the envelope was “to use it as a means of advertising Ogdensburg and advancing the publicity of its advantages.”

The envelope is addressed to C. H. Belgard of Soqualmie Falls, Wash., and touts Ogdensburg as “the logical place to enter Canada.”

In contrast to the city’s and county’s economic condition today, it boasts that Ogdensburg “is business seat and retail trading center for St. Lawrence County, largest county in New York State. This county is: First in agriculture in New York State. First in manufacturing among Northern New York counties. First in retail sales among the 7 northernmost counties in New York State. First in Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River navigation, shipping and U.S.-Canadian railroad, motor vehicle and passenger ferry traffic. Ogdensburg - a fine place to live – to work – to play.”

If you have a photo or feature for Glance At The Past, contact Advance-News Editor Elizabeth Lyons at 393-1003, extension 102, or egraham@wdt.net. Photos and accompanying information will be published in the order in which they are received, and must be received by Monday to be considered for publication the following Sunday. Contributors may pick up their submissions after they are published at The Journal and Advance-News office, 230 Caroline St., Ogdensburg.

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