Saturday, December 17, 2011
Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Tom here.
Steamboat Springs We have arrived at the happ, happ, happiest time of the year. Our days are supposed to be merry and bright, but I find myself missing my post office box.
What happened is understandable. After moving our household four times in three years, my wife went to the post office one more time to forward our mail and inadvertently closed out my box. But that P.O. box address and I had been together for more than 25 years. Can you imagine how many checks I retrieved out of that little silver box over a quarter of a century?
What I miss about my P.O. box, aside from picking up big checks and my junk mail, are the people I used to run into at the post office. Some of them are people I only saw coming out the side door on Third Street.
Missing those chance encounters lets me empathize with small-town residents across America who are faced with losing their post office early next year.
Time magazine ran a nice piece in its Dec. 19 issue about a graduate student from Pennsylvania who has visited and photographed endangered post offices in different parts of the country. Along the way, he’s mailed postcards home to preserve the postmarks.
Just think of the places we could go! In Northwest Colorado, post offices in Phippsburg, Maybell, Bond, Rand and Slater appear to be doomed.
The same thing is happening in Ideal, Ga.; Beetown, Wis.; Lyme Center, N.H.; Bon Air, Ala.; Koyukuk, Alaska; Caddo Gap, Ark.; and Meddybemps, Maine.
I’m not calling for the salvation of tiny post offices — I get it; the world has changed. I’m not asking the U.S. Postal Service to bring back the Pony Express, either.
But more than before, I understand how in crossroad communities all across this land, little post offices grew into social institutions. And a trip to the post office to learn what surprises it might hold was something to look forward to.
Before it’s too late, seek out a little post office — it could be in Wild Horse (that’s zip 80862) — and send yourself a postcard so you can savor the postmark when handwritten correspondence is entirely a thing of the past.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com