On Saturday, I found I needed a couple of items. Both were produced in China. I placed my order on Saturday evening, and they showed up yesterday by noon.
In the ’70s, my mother would have all of our gifts for her parents wrapped and boxed and ready to ship by early November. We would go to the Greyhound bus depot to ship them to Wisconsin from wherever we were in the country. In general, we could get packages by the Post Office in a couple of weeks.
In the ’60s, you could send a letter to a mail order location and “allow four to six weeks for delivery”.
Earlier, it took longer. The time it took to transport goods was much longer than people think.
We had stage coaches and riders to carry packages and mail before then.
But if you needed to move goods, the way to do it was by sea.
As a sailor, you would sign aboard. The ship would load with goods. The ship would sail to its destination. There it would put in for repairs. You could sign aboard for the return trip or stay.
In the ’70s, I read Two Years Before the Mast. It tells one such story. From the time Richard Dana left Boston in 1934 to California, it was two years before he returned. He published his memoir in 1840, describing his voyages.
Whenever I hear this song, I am taken back to that voyage in my mind’s eye. Fighting to keep a ship afloat in foul weather.
Or the NSFW version: