The Associated Press reports, "The Bethlehem [Indiana] post office is one of more than half a dozen with winter-themed names that are on a list of about 3,700 post offices nationwide the U.S. Postal Service has proposed shuttering to help slash costs. The postmarks from Snow, Okla., Antler, N.D., and Chestnut, Ill., might also fade away."
According to the article, "There are other places that will still offer a holiday postmark. North Pole postmarks will still be available in Alaska and New York. Six other states have a Bethlehem. But the proposed closures mean that it could be the last time these rural outposts get to take pride in the purpose their postmark brings each holiday."
It goes on to say, "Bethlehem’s heyday as a bustling 19th century river town is far behind it. There’s not much left beyond a few dozen homes for the 100 or so residents, a church, an old schoolhouse and a view of the Ohio River’s swirling waters framed by bluffs in adjacent Kentucky. Its first post office opened in March 1816, and has moved several times over the past two centuries, now housed in a modular trailer.
"During the year, the office handles only about 120 pieces of mail each week. But come the six-week Christmas card crush, it surges to about 16,000 overall. Much of that mail arrives in packages filled with bundles of letters, postage already affixed, from as far away as Germany, France and Great Britain. Other cards are delivered in person to the postmaster, often from people whose families have sent cards with the postmark for years."
Shown above, postmark cachet depicting the three wise men following the Star of Bethlehem on a letter stamped at the Bethlehem, Ind., post office.
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