The Way It Was – Carrying the mail


Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.

When I was a kid during the 1930s, one of my favorite persons was our mailman. I never knew what his name was, but to me he was always just “the mailman.” He was never too busy to talk with me. Sometimes he would sit for a few minutes with me and our dog, Nicki, in our porch swing, and we would talk while he petted our dog. Then, on a hot summer day, my grandmother might give him a glass of lemonade.
I always thought that would be a great job to have when I got older. I mean, wouldn’t it be fun to deliver mail to people all over town. And I could talk to all the kids and pet their dogs. And people would give me lemonade. Yes, it would be fun to be a mailman.
Years later, during the 1980s, I had an office in Columbus. It was a large, five-story building, and I got to know the mailman who delivered mail everyday on all five floors. He was a lot like the mailman we had back in the ‘30s. He knew people in just about every office, and he loved to chat with them.
He was a young, single guy, and he really had a good time talking with all the young ladies in the building. I sometimes saw him enjoying a cup of coffee in the building’s coffee shop. I can’t remember him ever sitting alone. I had been right … being a mailman would be a lot of fun.
But today our mailman doesn’t seem to have time to chat with anyone. I mean, the guy is always in a hurry. I have heard that mailmen today are on a very tight schedule. Sometimes, when he goes back to his truck, he doesn’t walk … he runs.
It’s not just the mailman on our street. I think the mailmen in nearby neighborhoods work at that same fast pace. It looks to me as if it’s a tougher job to carry the mail today than when I was a kid.
Every now and then we have a substitute mailman who works at that same fast pace. Actually, I shouldn’t use the word “mailman.” I should use “mail carrier.” Sometimes, it’s a woman who delivers the mail.
One day last summer, I was sitting on a bench near our front porch, and a young lady hurried across our front lawn and handed me our mail. It must have been the hottest day of the year, and she was actually panting as she handed it to me. That wasn’t surprising, for she was not only hurrying, she was also a slight young lady, and I think the bag she was carrying weighed almost as much as she did. I would have offered her a glass of lemonade, but I knew she wouldn’t have time to drink it.
I think all this is why most of us like to remember our mail carrier at Christmas time … maybe an envelope with some cash inside. But I heard the other day that the U.S. Postal Service recommends that people give small gifts – maybe a tin of homemade cookies – instead of cash.
Those people must be crazy. Just think of all the houses where your carrier delivers mail. What in the world would anyone do with all those cookies? Besides, it sure looks to me like it’s a lot tougher job to be a mail carrier today than it was 75 years ago.
There’s not much chatting going on, and there’s certainly no time to pet anyone’s dog … or drink lemonade. So I say, “Forget about cookies. This Christmas, let’s give our mail carriers cash. They work really hard.”
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