It was on this day in 1914 a family in Grangeville, Idaho sent a four year old through the mail to her grandmother in Lewiston, 73 miles away. And she wasn’t the only kid to travel this way after the US Postal Service began the parcel post. Plus: the group Electronicos Fantasticos is making some fascinating music with bar code scanners!

A Brief History of Children Sent Through the Mail (Smithsonian)

We Used to be Able to Send Children in the Mail (KQED)

Barcoders Jamming (Electronicos Fantasticos on YouTube)

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There’s a good chance that as you hear this show, you may also be waiting for a package to come your way.

Americans send and receive billions of packages through the mail and through private delivery companies.

We get books, clothes, groceries, movies, all sorts of stuff in packages.

One thing we don’t get in all those boxes: relatives.

But that wasn’t always the case.

Back in 1913, the US Postal Service began parcel post service, which meant packages could now be sent through the mail as well as via private companies.

This was a boon to mail-order companies, but it also convinced at least a few people to test what a parcel could include.

It was on this day in 1914 a family in Grangeville, Idaho sent four year old Charlotte May Pierstorff through the mail to her grandmother in Lewiston, 73 miles away.

The trip cost 53 cents.

And she wasn’t the only kid to travel this way, though the Postal Service soon ruled that it would only deliver live animals that didn’t need food or water during the trip – humans, of course, didn’t qualify.

So ended the days, as quickly as they began, in which parents could pin postage to their kids and drop them off at the post office to be delivered to other towns and cities.

These days most packages have bar codes on them, and there’s a musical side to those bar codes.

You may want to hear the new project by the group Electronicos Fantasticos.

Instead of using traditional musical instruments, they’re playing bar code scanners!

They’ve hooked up the same scanners you see at the store to speakers, and set up a special screen full of bar codes, which let them make beats and all kinds of other sounds.

That could be a money maker for the post office. Free drum loop with every purchase of shipping confirmation?