Santa Claus  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The United States Postal Service started a dead letter office in 1825 to deal with undeliverable mail. In 2006 approximately 90 million undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) items ended up in this office; where the rightful owners cannot be identified, the correspondence is destroyed to protect customer privacy, and enclosed items of value are removed.

In culture

  • One famous fictional alleged employee of the dead letter office is Bartleby, the eponymous character of Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street".
  • Alternative rock band R.E.M. released a compilation of B-sides and rarities entitled Dead Letter Office.
  • In the 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street, two mail sorters handle a letter addressed to "Kris Kringle" at the New York City courthouse, and decide to deliver all the Santa Claus mail now in the dead letter office to the courthouse, where a man calling himself Kris Kringle is facing a mental competency hearing. The man's attorney uses the huge volume of mail as evidence that the federal government recognizes his client as "the one-and-only Santa Claus."
  • The term "dead letter office" may be used in non-postal offices, in reference to any room of disused materials resembling a dead letter office.
  • Horror writer Clive Barker's book The Great and Secret Show features segments centered around the dead letter office at Omaha, Nebraska.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", Springfield Elementary School visits their local Post Office and are treated to a piece of undeliverable mail from the dead letter office as a souvenir.
  • In the 1996 comedy film Dear God, a character played by Greg Kinnear, who works in the dead letter office at Los Angeles, CA, responds to letters written to God.
  • In Australia, the postal authority (Australia Post) has renamed the "Dead Letter Office" the "Mail Redirection Centre" although documentation as recent as September 2007 still refers to it as the "Dead Letter Office".
  • In Terry Pratchett's book Making Money, the Postmaster Moist finds Lord Vetinari, the Patrician and ruler of the city, wandering around the Blind Letter office of the Ankh-Morpork post office. Vetinari is able to work out that a letter addressed "Duzbuns Hopsit pfarmerrsc" is intended for a baker opposite a pharmacy on Pigsty Hill who "does those rather good curly buns".

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Santa Claus" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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