BY MARCY SHORTUSE - It was July 29 when island resident Edd Dean walked into the Boca Grande Post Office and confronted postal employee Sally Pentecost.
He slapped a piece of paper down on the counter and said, “I want my money now.”
Looking down at this foreign piece of paper that said “Series of 1939 U.S. Postal Savings System $1,” Sally looked back up at Edd, confused.
What was this currency-type of bill that Edd possessed, and why did he want her to give him money? It was a certificate of deposit from when Edd was 12, and while he had since cashed the rest of them in, he had hung on to just this one. Back when it was issued, in 1952, it was worth $1 with an interest rate of two percent annually.
“When I was 12 I was doing all kinds of odd jobs,” Edd said. “Whenever I would get paid, I would run to the Post Office and invest it in these certificates. Eventually I cashed them in for college.”
This particular note was written on the Winter Haven Post Office’s dime, and Sally made no bones about referring him to their office.
“She told me that at that rate of interest I should be getting more than $3 back,” he said. “I laughed and said, ‘But what about the interest on the interest?’ I told her I thought she was giving me the old government run-around, and when she said she didn’t even think I was around that long ago, I told her I KNEW she was giving it to me.”
To be fair, Edd and Sally are good friends, and their exchange was pleasant. But after he left, Sally did some research. What she found out made Edd kind of want to go postal.
View More images >>The government was keeping that money, and he couldn’t have it.
“At some point in time, the government just decided they didn’t want to pay anyone else,” Edd said. “They cancelled them, weren’t going to pay off anybody.”
The Postal Savings System was established by the U.S. government on January 1,1911, primarily for immigrants who were used to taking their money to post offices in their native lands for deposit. The government thought it would be a great way to get more money out of hiding and out of the hands of the people who simply didn’t trust banks.
The Postal Savings System paid two percent interest per year on deposits, and the half percent was used to maintain the operation of the system. Interest was compounded annually on all certificates issued after Sept. 1, 1954, and simple interest was paid on the certificates issued before that date.
By 1929, $153 million was on deposit with the Post Office. In the 1930s it jumped to $1.2 billion. During World War II, in 1947, it peaked at $3.4 billion. However, World War II was also the beginning of the end for the Postal Savings Certificate.
After the war, when savings bonds were providing a better rate of interest, the amount of deposits within the system began to dwindle. By 1964 it had dropped to $416 million.
On April 27, 1966, the post office stopped accepting deposits to existing accounts, cut off interest payments and refused to open new accounts. The system officially ended July 1, 1967, when about $50 million in deposits was turned over to the Treasury Department to be held in trust. By June of 1969 all account records had been sent to the Treasury Department. Under the Postal Savings System Statute of Limitations Act of 1984, no claims could be brought more than one year from the date of enactment. That means since July of 1985, no claims have been honored.
Edd thinks that’s wrong. It’s not about the dollar, he said. It’s about the principle. Or principal, if you will.
“It says right on the certificate of deposit that the note is non-negotiable, non-transferable,” he said. “So why was the post office allowed to transfer these notes to the Treasury Department? Why to them, and not to me?”
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