Waiting for the mail was often a real experience

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In my heyday of field adjusting work and countless other jobs I performed in my younger days, I frequented the post office quite regularly. And, so did a lot of others who either came in to get their daily mail or mail out letters, packages and work assignments.

I remember how folks would come and wait for the mail to be “put up.” They would wait a few minutes, take a step or two backwards, lean up against the wall then go back to their boxes and take a peep to see if they had gotten any mail. And, some of these folks, knowing that mail was put in the boxes at a certain time, would get there sometimes 15 to 30 minutes early just to stand around and wait.

I remember one morning in the early 1960s, as several people stood around waiting, a man came running inside yelling for help. Very excitedly he roared, “My wife is expecting a baby right now. She is in the car parked outside.”

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It just so happened that Dr. Bancroft Cooper had just left the post office and was walking to his car parked in front of Watson Hardware Company. A young lady standing on the steps spotted Dr. Cooper and yelled to him for help. He immediately ran up to the car where the woman was. Her husband was standing just outside the passenger door. At the doctor’s command, the husband jumped behind the wheel and drove the doctor, his wife and expected baby to the hospital.

Martin Richie at The Advance wrote a story about this and sent it to one of the news services. I don’t know if it was picked up and aired but had this occurred during TV days I am sure it would have been shown nationwide.

During those working years, I always enjoyed the services offered by so many postal and route workers.

I remember John Dorriety, Ronnie Lehman, David McCants and Randy Barrow were some of my carriers. A couple of other route carriers were Ellie Bailey and Mrs. Reynolds.

My uncle Arthur McGill worked a mail route in the Nokomis-McKinnonville area in the 40s and 50s. He would sometimes call on me to drive for him on days his gout bothered him. One Christmas season I was impressed with gifts, fruit and nut baskets his patrons left hanging on the mailboxes.

Inside the post office, you would always engage in conversations with post master C. Williams and other workers, including Bobby Dixon, Gerald Stanton, Harold Fuller and George Harris.

I do not know if things at the post office are today like they were back then, but I do know it was a most interesting stopover in my daily activities.

Another “this was the way it was in the 1950s” was cucumber harvesting.

Marshall Robinson operated “The Cucumber Shed” just north of the Frisco Depot. Enjoying that delectable aroma from the cucumber brine in the huge round vats was very satisfying. Marshall gave you seeds and all you need do was plant and harvest them. He offered a guaranteed market by buying them back. At the vat they soaked in the brine and were shipped to the Montgomery plant, where they were canned and marketed.
One of the interesting aspects of growing cucumbers was the fact it was not limited to big time farmers. Large families, even young people, would contract an acre or half acre to plant and harvest to earn extra money. One day a week, when they were graded, folks came by to pick up the free “culls” to take home for delicious salad entries.

Now, in some news from 1966, Northrop King (NK) announced a new variety of seeds would be marketed at the Atmore facility. In making the announcement, the firm engaged three new representatives to market the products throughout the South.
Jack Wright operated a popular barbershop back then. Obie White and Tommie reportedly were two barbers who also worked there.

The Pensacola Jaycees named George Van Pelt as the Escambia County, Fla., “Young Farmer of the Year.” Teamed with his brother Jim, the duo operated a prolific 664-acre dairy farm in the Davisville area.

The American Legion and VFW posts conducted a special memorial service for Specialist 5 serviceman Jack E. Clemmons. The Atmore soldier lost his life in the Vietnam War.

Mrs. Henry Rodgers, wife of Dr. Henry Rodgers Jr., was elected president of the Fourth District Dental Auxiliary.

Did you watch the Super Bowl?

Well, many did but reportedly some turned to other TV programs midway through the third quarter when it became obvious the game was a “runaway.” I understand this was very disturbing to the commercial folks, because several of those prize ads were not seen. I am sure advertisers were upset over this because they had dished out huge sums of money to pay for these ads.

I spoke with a couple of my catastrophe adjusting pals this weekend and they told me their adjusting firms were begging for certified adjusters to help settle the “ice claims” occurring in 10 southern states. I learned the property insurer carriers are taking a tremendous loss in what was described as one of the most costly storms of this type in 25 years. Reportedly, that event rivaled the oft-mentioned “1993 No Name Storm.”

Incidentally, I want to apologize to James Burkett for inadvertently leaving his name off our list of coffee drinking regulars from my column last week. Shoveling all that ice and snow was too much drain on my thinking, James.

More news from days gone by next week.

You can email Lowell McGill at exam@frontiernet.net.