The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 11, 2013

Memories of a country mailman

Editor and Publisher
John H. Walker

ROCKY MOUNT — There was a time when a business needed one of the larger post office boxes available for rent.

This newspaper was one of them. Our box, 1199 ny number, is one of the very big ones located around the corner from where the copier machine that never worked was located.

We even have a post office bag to use to carry the mail.

We don’t use it any more.

Neither do a lot of other businesses. Even at the end of one month and the beginning of the next, the volume is never so great as to need a container of sorts.

But I know that hasn’t always been the case. It certainly wasn’t before the Internet, when mail or hand delivery were one’s main options.

And now, the U.S. Postal Service has announced plans to discontinue Saturday deliveries to homes and businesses in August.

There have been other methods over the years, such as American Messenger Service — the predecessor of what we know today as UPS.

It might surprise you to learn that, as a company, UPS has been around since 1907.

There were many other messenger services at the time, and there was also Railway Express Agency, which went out of business in the 1970s.

Another delivery company is FedEx, which was founded in 1971 as Federal Express.

There’s a lot of competition out there for the postal service, but none that has taken such a toll as the Internet.

We still mail our invoices, but we receive the majority of ours via the computer — using our own paper to print out our bill.

In small communities, there’s still a level of comraderie with the postal workers.

We know their names and the names of their children and they know when we’ve been sick because we live in small town America.

That’s probably my most fond memory of mail delivery — knowing the carriers.

Pat Walley carried the mail on Route 3 in Taylorsville, Miss. the entire time I was a youngster.

Spending the summer at Granny Walker’s, we would hear Mr. Pat’s car coming up the hill after crossing the old, steel truss bridge over Cohay Creek.

If Granny wasn’t in the garden, or if one our aunts was there, we’d ask if we could go get the mail from Mr. Pat.

He knew every one of us grandkids, even those who lived away and came to Granny’s for the summer, and he called us by name.

If one of us had gotten a letter from our parents, he blow the horn as he came up the hill to make sure we ran out to meet him, bare feet splattering on Granny’s gravel lane.

It’s been many years, because Mom’s been gone 19, but I remember her calling to deliver the message ... “Johnny, Mr. Pat Walley died.”

No one ever calls to tell you that you got an email, do they?

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of The Daily Southerner.)