PHIL IN THE BLANK: Info search

It was a blast from the past in Monday’s mail. A hand-addressed letter from Iowa.
Sent Rylie, a fifth grader at Harlan Intermediate School, “My class is studying the geography and history of the United States. I am excited to learn more about your state of Michigan. I would really appreciate if you would send me pictures, postcard, or information on your state. My amazing teacher, Mrs. Newlin, would like a car license plate, if possible, for a teacher project. I really appreciate your time and look forward to learning more about Michigan. Thank you!”
Very 20th century.
Nowadays, one might do a Google search of “Michigan,” which takes a half second to come back with 17 million results. The Wikipedia entry for the state has more than 11,000 words, not counting notes, references, and bibliography, plus photos.
Sending license plates through the mail also seems expensive. Would it also be illegal? People swiping license plates from vehicles shows up every now and then in the police reports. But no, it’s not, according to a Google search with 2 million results. There are clubs for it, such as the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association.
Wondering if the project was for real, I Googled “Harlan Intermediate School Mrs. Newlin.” Another half second later, I had 16,900 results. The teacher has had her students send the same letter to newspapers all over the country since at least 2011. The papers often post them online, similarly to what I’m doing (maybe without the snark).
One paper interviewed her. “Everything is very much appreciated,” she said. “The student researching your state has received a lot of mail. You have wonderful people in your community. Yes, we are receiving license plates and they are a lesson in themselves.”
Anyway, the point is to get stuff from people despite the internet. I need my license plate for my Chevy, but if you have one or anything else you’d like to share, send it to:
Rylie W., Mrs. Newlin’s S.S. Class
Harlan Intermediate School
1401 19th St.
Harlan, Iowa 51537.

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