I POPPED INTO the post office mid-morning to pay a few bills and pick up stamps. I should have known better. The month of December and a global pandemic mean that this will be one extremely busy facility for the next couple of weeks.

Several folks armed with holiday packages ready for early mailing hurried inside to escape the brisk weather. I counted eight ahead of me with three postal employees working the counter. We all wore masks and tried to practice the recommended 6 feet of social distancing, but the line continued to swell.

Here’s good news: The First Class Mail postage rate (1 oz.) is not increasing in 2021, so stamps will remain at 55 cents. But each additional ounce of First Class Mail will cost 20 cents, a 5-cent increase from 2020.

I believe that the post office is a cherished institution, and although technological advances such as online bill paying and emails/texts reduce the need for written correspondence, it remains an essential public service. Think about it: 48% of the world’s mail volume is handled by the postal service.

I saw this quote in a WashingtonMonthly.com article written by New Jersey Congressman William Pascrell, Jr., and he sums it up this way: “Even as smartphones and electronic communication permeate every crevice of daily life, the United States Postal Service forms a lifeblood circulatory system connecting every community in the Union.”

Did you know that Ben Franklin was the first postmaster general, appointed in 1775, a year before the Declaration of Independence?

Were you also aware that our post office headquarters, located at 38 Spring St. here in the downtown, is named the “Hugh Gregg Post Office?”

Former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu (Gov. Chris Sununu’s brother) introduced the bill in 2003 to designate the facility in honor of the late Hugh Gregg, the 78th governor of New Hampshire and a native Nashuan.

It was also Gregg who championed our first-in-the-nation presidential primary status and continued to remain active defending the Granite State’s hallowed place in the American nominating system.

That’s not all. He entered Nashua politics as an alderman-at-large in 1947 and served as mayor of Nashua in 1950.

Hugh Gregg had a great legal mind, was a wonderful and gracious person to interview and never at a loss for words.

I have always found that some folks are easier to get an answer out of than others, and Hugh Gregg never skipped a beat.

By the time I met him, he was retired from political office, but I could call him and quote him for a newspaper article, or plant a microphone in his face for a radio news report, and he was ready with an answer about the city and state he loved so dearly.

He respected the media, and today that isn’t always what you find when interviewing people at the top.

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Joan Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column appears every other Thursday. She can be reached at jtania512@gmail.com.