Ferber, Edna. "FANNY HERSELF", Frederick A. Stokes Co., Crowell Publishing, New York, 1917

pp 144, 145, Excerpt 2

transcription of a book excerpt


"The morning mail was in--the day's biggest grist, a deluge of it, a flood. Buyer and assistant buyer never saw the actual letters, or attended to their enclosed orders. It was only the unusual letter, the complaint or protest that reached their desk. Hundreds of hands downstairs sorted, stamped, indexed, filed, after the letter- opening machines had slit the envelopes. Those letter-openers! Fanny had hung over them, enthralled. The unopened envelopes were fed into them. Flip! Zip! Flip! Out! Opened! Faster than eye could follow. It was uncanny. It was, somehow, humorous, like the clever antics of a trained dog. You could not believe that this little machine actually performed what your eyes beheld. Two years later they installed the sand- paper letter- opener, marvel of simplicity. It made the old machine seem cumbersome and slow. Guided by Izzy, the expert, its rough tongue was capable of licking open six hundred and fifty letters a minute.

Ten minutes after the mail came in the orders were being filled; bins, shelves, warehouses, were emptying their contents. Up and down the aisles went the stock clerks; into the conveyors went the bundles, down the great spiral bundle chute, into the shipping room, out by mail, by express, by freight. This leghorn hat for a Nebraska country belle; a tombstone for a rancher's wife; a plow, brave in its red paint; coffee, tea, tinned fruit, bound for Alaska; lace, muslin, sheeting, toweling, all intended for the coarse trousseau of a Georgia bride. ..."