Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Postal stress? What stress?
The third week in December has to be the toughest time of the year for post office employees across America. It's a credit to Steamboat Springs' postal clerks that they have remained so cheerful while helping procrastinators such as you and me. However, with just 10 mail delivery days left until Christmas, I found a postal worker last week who was a picture of serenity.
"It's so slow here - you never have problems with waiting," Shelly McCoy said. "There are days when I have absolutely no one come into the post office."
McCoy has been the postmaster in Bond, about 50 miles south of Steamboat Springs, for 10 years. Anyone in Steamboat who has driven south on Colorado Highway 131 on his or her way to Interstate 70 has driven right by the Bond Post Office, perhaps without noticing. It's the small building just across the railroad tracks.
If you don't mind a 100-mile round trip, you can step right up to McCoy's window tomorrow morning and get your holiday packages weighed. No need to wait.
Bond is an unincorporated hamlet just across the county line in northern Eagle County.
How many people live in Bond? McCoy does the tabulations in her head. "There are nine families living here right now." Of course, the Bond Post Office serves several rural routes. McCoy's contract driver runs mail up to Copper Spur, down the Colorado River to Radium and all the way to the Sheephorn in Grand County.
The post office, built in 1940, is a little, white frame building with an American flag on a pole out front. The building can't measure more than about 375 square feet, but there is room for a lobby, mail sorting area and office. There is a stack of five parcel lock boxes in the lobby and a phalanx of 100 postal boxes. Only 34 are rented. The P.O. boxes are the old fashioned kind with alphabetical combination locks instead of keyed locks.
"Other postmasters tell me I should get more modern boxes," McCoy said. "I love the old ones. It's like, why should I replace them when they work just fine?"
McCoy's first postmaster was Agnes Hildrath, who served from opening day in 1940 right up to 1967. Then Iva Seaman served in a transitional capacity until Ellen Matlock took over in 1968.
McCoy does her own snow shoveling in winter and mows the little lawn in summer. She is there from 7 a.m. until noon, and again from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. The post office is open from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays.
McCoy doesn't need to see an address to know where to put each piece of mail, whether it's destined for a P.O. box or a rural mailbag. One glance at the family name is all she needs.
Radio reception is sketchy down along the river where Bond is situated - in the morning there is a lot of static, so McCoy waits until afternoon to listen to music. Other times, she just leaves the radio off. "Sometimes I just enjoy the quiet," she said. The post office isn't always quiet - it's one of the social hubs of the little community. McCoy hears all the gossip, what little there is.
"I maybe hear more than I want to know," she confessed
At one time, there was a plan to make Bond a busy little town. The Union Pacific Railroad investigated building a motel/restaurant to house its employees between shifts. However, the nine families in Bond didn't want to see their community change, and the property owners who controlled the suitable parcels declined to sell.
Considering that the holidays are supposed to be a peaceful time, it's easy to understand McCoy's attachment to her job and the little, white building that houses the Bond post office.