Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Ben Dyer and the Zip Code

It was sixty years ago this year, in 1963, that the post office began using zip codes. Albany postmaster Ben Dyer announced in June of that year that a new system of improving mail dispatch and delivery would begin on July 1st. The zip code, five digit numerals to be placed on all correspondence, will cut up to 24 hours between the time of the deposits and delivery of mail, he said.

Local post offices that were assigned numbers were Aaron 42601, Albany 42602, Alpha 42603, Highway 42623, Huntersville 42627, Seminary 42644 and Static 38586. Everyone in these communities were asked to use the numbers on all correspondence to not only speed deliveries but to reduce the chance of missent mail.

Dyer also instructed residents on how to include the zip code with the address. "This prefix is to be used on all mailers, whether they are post boxholders, have home boxes or get their mail by general delivery."

For the first time ever, the new zip code plan would permit post office employees to decrease repeat readings of addresses. Previously, the address on mail often had to be read eight or ten times in order to get it to the proper destination. Each handling slowed the process of mail dispatch and added to the opportunity for human error.

The zip code allowed the United States to have 'the most modern system of mail distribution in existence,' Dyer said, and he encouraged everyone to learn their zip codes and use them on return addresses on all correspondence and that in answering mail the zip code taken from incoming mail should be used.

Ben Dyer was appointed postmaster in November of 1959, replacing Odell Cummings, who had been acting postmaster for one year following the retirement of W.H. "Bill" Vitatoe. Ben served as postmaster for 22 years, longer than anyone else who served before him. He retired in January of 1981.

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