Notes from the Past

Remembering the Mail - Part III

The mailman was an important member of the community when I was young.  Everyone knew their mailman and they were generally considered substantial citizens if not well-to-do.  They were fortunate to have a secure and well paying job in the midst of the depression.  Our small town had, as I remember, 4 mailmen who delivered the mail twice a day to each home and business in the town.  (Twice a day deliveries ended during World War II.)

In addition to the town mailmen, there were also the Star and RFD route drivers.  These were also substantial citizens -- they had a government contract and a car.  I never did understand how they learned to drive their cars (manual shift was the only one available) from so far to the right of the front seat.  They would drive quite a distance each day to cover their routes.  They also delivered the mail in all kinds of weather.  A sudden winter storm could often strike without warning and the mailmen could be stranded on rural dirt roads.

In the town, our postman -- a spry 60 year old -- peddled a bicycle to deliver the mail.  It was Post Office green, balloon tired, and had a coaster brake.  It also had a basket which was made of sheet metal with reinforcing metal straps to give it strength.  I don't know whether the basket was a post office standard or not.  The postman's pant legs were clipped to prevent their being caught in the chain on the bicycle.  For some reason or other, our postman was crotchety and, I thought, mean.  Dogs were his nemesis and he didn't like their attacks on his legs.  He dealt with dogs by carrying the head of a claw hammer in his basket to throw at them when they attacked him.  I don't think he ever killed one but I'm sure they took off with a pained yelp!

- Jim Watson
Posted November 20, 1999
© 1999, Jim Watson  

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