Ford Model A half-ton parcel post truck
This 1931 Ford Model A half-ton truck was used primarily for parcel post service. In 1932 Post Office Department mechanics combined the Ford Model A chassis with a Mifflinburg Body Company truck body. The truck’s service record is unavailable prior to 1949. That year it was in service in Enfield, Connecticut, where it was sold as surplus in 1952. In 1985 the truck’s donor acquired the vehicle and restored it to its 1931 status. Marked with "U.S. Mail" on the sides and front, the truck is number 11617, which is also painted clearly on the vehicle.
After the end of 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 of parts and labor to service all the vehicle styles drained the postal budget.
In 1929 postal officials convinced Congress to fund a standardized fleet of postal vehicles. An ever-increasing volume of mail demanded bigger and better vehicles. Some of the trucks transported letter carriers to their daily rounds; others conveyed mail between post offices and railway stations. Popular from the beginning, by 1931 the parcel post service had served the public for eighteen years.
The Post Office Department did not prioritize new truck purchases during the Great Depression and World War II, so trucks bought in the 1920s and early 1930s stayed on the road longer than expected. Skilled mechanics helped keep the trucks operating as best they could. Through the end of the war, bailing wire, talent, and luck kept these aging vehicles running. Some of these vehicles stayed in service until the 1950s.