Aunty Doris wasn’t related to us, she was a lifelong friend of my mother. There were quite a few such friends, and we called all of them Aunty.
What was different about Doris was that she was married, and her husband Bertie was a Postmaster. He got transferred to many different Post Offices and occasionally I got to see the working side of them.
Uncle Bertie was an expert at sending and reading messages in Morse code. I suppose it ages me, that I’ve even heard of the Morse Code, and seen it in operation. It used to fascinate me, that this little thing, when tapped in the correct manner, sounding like an erratic tattoo generated by a little hammer hitting a little anvil, could send messages across the miles and somebody at the other end could understand it. Uncle Bertie could not only send messages with the device, he could also interpret incoming messages that sounded exactly the same.
The other fascinating thing about Uncle Bertie's job was his weekend checking of post boxes. We are talking about snail mail here, no such thing as computers in Uncle Bertie’s lifetime. There were mailboxes situated at intervals along streets in most towns, and employees were detailed to empty them and take the contents to the Post Office for processing. To ensure that the mailboxes were emptied, Uncle Bertie used to go for a Sunday drive and post numbered tags in some of the boxes. Not knowing which boxes had been targetted, the employees had to empty all of them so that the tags were returned to the Post Office.
It took a dedicated person to learn the Morse Code consisting of dots and dashes, and to be competent at transmitting messages with it. It’s just another of the old skills that have been lost due to modern technology
The Post Office was His Majesty’s Mail Service, the king was King George VI of England, and New Zealand was a British colony at that time.
None of that stuff is there now. No Morse Code machines, fewer street mailboxes, nobody has the same jobs in the Post Office any more, and King George VI’s daughter is now the 85 year old Queen of England.