Highway Post Office bus model
This is a model of a Highway Post Office (HPO) bus. The model sports the traditional blue and white body with red stripe color scheme that was used for postal vehicles in the 1950s and 1960s. The model includes side windows that were placed in the area of the bus used by clerks to process mail while the bus was in motion. The rear section of the bus, with access through a back door, was used for storing sacks of already processed mail being carried to the next post office.
The model represents a Crown Coach Corporation Highway Post Office bus. Don M. Brockway founded the Crown Carriage Company in Los Angeles in 1904. Crown Coach is known for its manufacture of school buses. Crown also manufactured touring buses and fire trucks as well as a small selection of highway post office buses. The model’s relatively flat front was a signature style of the company. The company produced HPO buses in single (thirty-five feet long) and tandem-axle (forty feet long) versions. It is difficult to say which version this model represents.
Highway Post Office service was designed as a response to declining railroad traffic in the early 1940s. As the United States grew, use of the highway system grew as well, meaning fewer passengers for the railways. This in turn meant fewer trains available to carry mail in several parts of the country.
Clerks inside the buses sorted mail in transit just as Railway Mail Service clerks had done aboard trains. The interiors of these buses were based on Railway Post Offices, with letter cases and the letter distributing table on one side and the paper distributing table and holders for mail sacks on the other.
Security of the mail was very important. The bus drivers were not postal employees. They were contractors. Because of this, a locked screen door was placed behind the driver, separating him from the mail clerks. Barred and screened side windows added to the security.