Ford Model AA 1-ton parcel post truck
This 1931 Ford Model AA truck was used primarily for parcel post service. The green wood panel body is marked with a horizontal white stripe on each side. The words "U.S. Mail" signify that it is a government mail vehicle. "U.S. Mail" is also painted on the top front of the vehicle. When originally purchased, drab olive green was the signature color of the Post Office Department.
After World War I, the secretary of war provided the Post Office Department with excess trucks. The Department used 1,444 of those trucks through the 1920s. A mish-mash of forty-three different vehicle types by twenty-three different manufacturers, the cost to maintain parts and train mechanics to service all the vehicle styles drained the postal budget.
In 1929 postal officials convinced Congress to fund a standardized fleet of postal vehicles. The Post Office Department asked for bids for four hundred Ford AA truck bodies that summer. It awarded the contract to the August Schubert Wagon Works of Syracuse and Oneida, New York, in June. The Department purchased the truck chassis from Ford, and postal mechanics assembled body and chassis in postal garages around the country.
Some of the trucks transported letter carriers to their daily rounds; others conveyed mail between post offices and railway stations. By 1931 parcel post service had existed for eighteen years. The service, popular from the beginning, transported an ever-increasing volume of mail, which required bigger and better vehicles.
During the Great Depression and World War II, the Post Office Department did not purchase many new trucks. As a result, trucks bought in the 1920s and early 1930s stayed on the road longer than expected. Skilled mechanics helped keep those trucks operating as best they could. Bailing wire, talent, and luck kept these aging vehicles on the road through the end of the war. Some of these vehicles stayed in service until the 1950s.