Q. Ever since the U.S. Postal Service announced it was going to five-day-a-week delivery in August, I have reminded my friends that carriers used to deliver mail twice a day in the 1940s or so. But they look at me like I'm goofy. Did two-a-day delivery really happen or am I really losing it?
-- Gus Lignoul, of Granite City
A. The title of that 1946 movie "The Postman Always Rings Twice" was right on the button in more ways than one.
You'll find this on Page 23 of "The United States Postal Service: An American History 1775-2006":
"Carriers walked as many as 22 miles a day, carrying up to 50 pounds of mail at a time. They were instructed to deliver letters frequently and promptly -- generally twice a day to homes and up to four times a day to businesses.
"The second residential delivery was discontinued on April 17, 1950, in most cities. Multiple deliveries to businesses were phased out over the next few decades ... The weight limit of a carrier's load was reduced to 35 pounds by the mid-1950s and remains the same today."
In fact, not only did we once get two deliveries a day, but in some parts of the country, there also was regular Sunday delivery -- right up to today.
In his book "Andrew Jackson in the White House," Jon Meacham describes how the Rev. Ezra Stiles Ely petitioned the president to stop delivery on Sunday in 1830s. But it apparently remained until Aug. 24, 1912, when President William Taft signed a law closing all post offices on Sunday.
Still, in Loma Linda, Calif., where most people are Seventh-day Adventists who worship on Saturday, the post office delivered on Sunday instead of Saturday until April 17, 2011. Sunday deliveries reportedly go on in Angwin, Calif., and Collegedale, Tenn., two small college towns where private post offices are owned by the church, according to the Postal Service.
By the way, mail delivery was stopped nationwide on Saturdays in April 1957 -- for one weekend. The protest was so overwhelming that Congress restored it two days later.
In any case, your memory certainly gets my stamp of approval. To read more about the post office's history, go to www.usps.gov and search for Publication 100.
Q. During the 1950s, after dances at Cathedral High School, we would go the Public Square in Belleville to a cafe. In my memory it was behind the Belleville Hotel between Serth's Cigar Store and Twenhoefel Insurance Agency. My friend tells me this cannot be, because there was no cafe there. The only cafe was across the square on the same side as First National Bank. Am I getting that old that I can not remember where I spent many Friday nights having Cokes with my friends?
-- Joann Lukowski, of Columbia
A. I'm going to go out on a limb a little here, but it doesn't appear that anyone was spiking your soda back then. Here's how I interpret what I found in the 1950s city directories:
As you know, addresses usually have even numbers on one side of the street and odd on the other. It appears that held true for the businesses around the Public Square as well.
On the north side of East Main (where Bank of America is now), you had Belleville National Savings Bank (23-27 Public Square), Ray's Restaurant (29) and the St. Louis Coach Co. (31), i.e., the city bus terminal at that time.
That means the even numbers were on the south side, including Serth's Cigar Store (26), which is the same address where a childhood friend, Brad Badgley, now has his law office next to the Art on the Square office (30).
As a result, I'm guessing you celebrated CHS's victories (and drowned your sorrows) at the Capitol Restaurant, which was at 24 Public Square, apparently next to Serth's as you said. It was in business through the 1950s, so I'm hoping the name rings a bell.
However, you threw a monkey wrench into my logic when you mentioned Twenhoefel. Twenhoefel was at 27, so it was on the other side of the street with the bank and buses. Perhaps you meant Chicago Title and Trust at 28. Or maybe you remember Dittle's Cafe at 24 S. Illinois, but that was near the corner of Washington and Illinois.
Or maybe I'm just full of hops this time, so I'd appreciate a yea or nay from you or any other longtime resident who can confirm my research -- or set me straight. Except to visit Santa, I did not often frequent the Square in the '50s.
Riddle me this, Danica Patrick: In what way is your racecar like a kayak?
Answer to Tuesday's trivia: Centuries ago, the Andre family in Nimes, France, started producing a sturdy fabric made of silk and wool that came to be known as "serge de Nimes" (serge from Nimes). Of course, now when we buy our Levi's or Wrangler's, we simply call the rugged, twilled cotton fabric "denim" for short. And, because Italians from Genoa were among the first to appreciate the material, we also call the popular pants "jeans."
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com.