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A group of New York postmen set off on foot from the General Post Office to deliver mail in New York City at Christmas, circa 1955.

By Jonathan Sanger, NBC News

Published at 2:10 p.m. ET: The United States Postal Service announced on Wednesday that they will stop Saturday mail deliveries. Email and other forms of electronic communication have made a big dent in the Postal Service's bottom line. From its early start delivering mail on horseback to testing Segways on mail routes, the 273-year-old agency has evolved quite a bit since its beginning.

Marion Post Wolcott/U.S. Farm Security Administration; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A rural mailman travels up a creek bed toward Morris Fork near Jackson, Ky., in August 1940.; K. Ng rides a Segway on his mail route in July 2002 in San Francisco.

National Photo Co.; Scott Olson/Getty Images

Postal workers sort mail in a Washington, D.C., post office circa 1920.; Bobbi Crump moves mail on a conveyor at the USPS Chicago Logistics and Distribution Center in December 2012.

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Slideshow: U.S. Postal Service then and now

Orlando / Getty Images

Take a look at the how the USPS has evolved since its beginning.

Launch slideshow

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Johnny Cash didn’t live lightly.

From picking cotton to help his impoverished, Depression-wracked family; to his exhausting tour schedule; to struggling with a serious drug addiction; to his songs about guns, murder, revenge, punishment and repentance—Johnny Cash was a troubled man who sought redemption through his music.

To commemorate what would be the county-music master’s 80th birthday on Feb. 26, several celebrations, projects and events are scheduled throughout the year. Cash’s boyhood home in Dyess, Ark. is being restored. Columbia/Legacy will release a series of archived recordings, starting with a collection of his gospel and spiritual songs from 1970s and ’80s called Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth, which will be available in April. A Johnny Cash Museum is scheduled to open this summer in Nashville.

And here on LightBox we have rare and unpublished photos of the Man in Black from the Sony Music Archive. Many of these images were taken by Don Hunstein, a prolific music photographer at Columbia records for 30 years, and date from the late ’50s to the early ’70s; they include pictures of Cash and his wife June right after she gave birth to their only son, John Carter Cash, in 1970, as well as the musician at home in California or fishing on his farm in San Antonio.

Johnny Cash was born to farmers in Kingsland, Ark. on Feb. 26, 1932. As the fourth of five children, he recalled in a 1969 TIME article that although his family was dirt poor, “I was never hungry a day in my life….at breakfast it was just fatback and biscuits—but that was plenty.” After high school, Cash worked at an auto plant in Pontiac, Mich. (where, as far as we know, he did not actually construct a car from stolen parts, as he later pretended to in his 1976 song “One Piece at a Time”). He joined the Air Force for a few years, and then in 1954 he married Vivian Liberto and the couple moved to Memphis.

Cash had always been musical—as a child he sang at the Dyess Central Baptist Church and he reportedly learned to play the guitar while in the Air Force —so when he moved to Memphis, he hooked up with two musicians, Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant, and auditioned for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. He recorded “Hey, Porter” and “Cry Cry Cry” for Phillips, the latter of which became his first hit, peaking at No. 14 on the Billboard’s Top 20 in 1955. He followed it up with “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line,” which shot up to No. 1 and stayed there for 43 weeks. It would sell over two million copies. (Cash’s stint at Sun Records was relatively shortlived; he switched to Columbia in 1958 because the Phillips wouldn’t let him record gospel music).

Cash then embarked the grueling journey that all newly-successful musicians must endure: days and weeks and months of endless touring. By 1957, he was giving more than 200 shows a year (by some accounts, he may have played closer to 300). His marriage was faltering. He drank too much. He became addicted to amphetamines. He accidentally started a forest fire in California. He was arrested for smuggling pills into the U.S. from Mexico. In 1966, his wife filed for divorce. And yet still he released hit song after hit song: “Ring of Fire,” “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” “I Got Stripes.” Johnny Cash was a troubled man, but not so troubled that he couldn’t turn his haunted words into song.

Cash toured with the Carter Family in the 1960s—and of course he would ultimately marry June Carter in 1968, after she helped him overcome his addiction and find his faith. The couple’s live recordings at Folsom Prison and San Quentin, in 1968 and 1969 respectively, are still two of the best concert albums ever released. They were married for 35 years, until her death in May 2003 from complications from heart surgery. Cash made it only four more months before joining her in September of the same year.

But this glossed over retelling of dates and events isn’t what’s important about Johnny Cash. The reason we remember him so fondly—and why we’re celebrating his birthday nine years after he passed—is the gift he had for music and the way he made us feel. Cash’s world-weary bass-baritone voice expressed a forlorn pain that, until we heard his songs, we didn’t even know we had. He gave a voice to the working man, the luckless, the outlaw, the convict—and to those of us who weren’t any of those things but who sometimes identified with them anyway.

“Well, we’re doing mighty fine, I do suppose / In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes,” Cash once sang, “But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back / Up front there ought ‘a be a man in black.”

Thank you for being that man, Johnny Cash. Happy birthday.

Claire Suddath is a staff writer at TIME Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter at @clairesuddath or on Facebook.

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Photo: Dorothea Lange | Colorization: Sanna Dullaway

The photograph that has become known as "Migrant Mother" was a 32-year-old mother of seven children photographed in February of 1936 by Dorothea Lange.

Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt | Colorization: Sanna Dullaway

LIFE's Alfred Eisenstaedt captured this scene amid the joyous chaos of August 14, 1945, his "V-J Day in Times Square" has become one of the most famous photographs ever made.

By Jon Sweeney, Sr. multimedia producer

 

When Swedish artist Sanna Dullaway colorized a series of historical works from the likes of Eddie Adams and Dorthea Lange her intent was not to re-create history or take credit for adding a new twist to these historical images. She was just showing off her talents as an artist in her personal blog (see more images from her series on imgur).

Photo: Eddie Adams | Colorization: Sanna Dullaway

Vietcong Execution in Saigon in 1968 was one of the most iconic images of the Viet Nam war.

“I only wanted to show everyone a new perspective of the past black & white world.” She wrote in an email. “The sun shone on our grandparents too.”

"I felt the famous photographs would  best reach and touch everyone who saw them," Dullaway continued.

When colorized images went viral, with websites like Gizmondo writing about her works, she realized the impact of what she did. “I never claimed them being my own work nor did I want to ‘improve’ or ‘replace’ them as some people might want to think.”

When Dullaway realized that she might have infringed on copyrights, she immediately took the images down from her blog and apologized for her actions on her deviantart.com website. She added this to her status, “Please note I do not take credit for the iconic photos I colourized,” she wrote. “Focus on the photos, not me.”

Needless to say her images are out there and alive on the internet, and as I look at the manipulations, I have to wonder  how many times can history be re-written and when does a piece of art ever stop being modified?

Gizmondo blogger Jesus Diaz wrote today that these colored famous photos are so much more powerful than their black and white originals, but I have to disagree.  Eddie Adams photo of the execution captured on the streets of Saigon is more powerful, because it is real. That black and white photo raised the global conscience about the conflict in Viet Nam, and helped bring an end to the war. Color or not it’s one of the most important photos of the 20th century.

I understand that these images were done not to modify history and should only be taken as entertainment. It’s not the first time that works of art have been digitally altered and it’s definitely not the first time black and white classics have made the leap to color. I remember the first time I saw Ted Turner's colorization of Casablanca. It looked unnatural and like many others I preferred the black and white original. However, on a completely different tune, when DJ Dangermouse mashed the Beatles White Alblum and Jay-Z's Black Album to create the Grey Album, I had to commend the creativity. But that's art of a different color.

Ultimately for Dullaway, her experiment got the job done. People are talking about her new colorization business, around the globe, and in this day and age, that’s more than half the battle for an artist. The ability to self-promote is important and she should enjoy the buzz while it lasts, because after it’s over, an artist needs to stand on their own talents and not gimmicks.

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What do you think? Discuss this post in the comments section or hit me on Twitter @sweeneyjon.

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