Tuesday, December 6, 2011

GRANDPA: 'His' Post Office to Sever Services

A Hat
like Grandpa wore to the post office
and everywhere else

The farmers he 'saved' wore hats om special occasions

Shown above, from left:
Ray S. Dix, my father Leslie Vernon Dix, R. Leland Dix,
Maynard Dix, Meredith Dix, Myrtle Dix

The warnings of coming diminished postal service is sad news.

In my early days, the daily post office trip was a ceremony for my Grandfather Ray Dix.
When visiting him in Cedar Falls Iowa I would get to ride down to the mail 'temple' - to Ray it was that - in the family jitney, where Grandpa in his insurance man attire of white shirt, hat, tie and Union Central tie clip, and clean creased trousers would descend from the running board of his car with me in tow, at the post office. It was a columned structure Grandpa held in high reverence. So I thought, at least.

Grandpa would withdraw his P.O. box 'password' on his important looking pocket key chain he wore clipped to his waist. He would smilingly find the small brass key, insert it in the lock, slowly turn it, working the mystical mechanism, while looking significantly at me.

I would wonder what the important mail would be inside.

Grandpa would gather all of it up and without looking at it, take it in a bundle under his arm to drive it back home. Then he would carefully study each envelope before opening them at his desk in the big dining room at 2009 Clay Street.

He carefully, slowly handled his Union Central Life Insurance letter opener like a scalpel, sharp and sure. Each letter got the attention it deserved, for Grandpa was seriously at work there in his workplace, the dining room.

He had a glass-topped desk and a swivel chair. His shirt sleeves were worn with rubber bands around his elbows. He smoked a pipe almost all the time.

In the post-Depression years Grandpa was a hero to many, including Iowa farmers around Cedar Falls, for whom' he delivered the goods', the good news; he made his customers aware that they had insurance he had sold them that had cash value that could be borrowed-upon.

Checks would come to him via the post office temple and he would promptly deliver them personally. When I was down in Cedar Falls I got to ride with Grandpa on some of those check delivery visits to appreciative farmsteads. " Look, here comes Ray Dix down our drive! Maybe he got something in the mail!"

I was little, but I knew then my Grandpa was a life-saver.


The US mail was then the mainspring of commerce, and it still is. Historically, it was never meant to be a money-maker like Fed-Ex or UPS is now, but maybe because of that, it has steadily fallen on hard times. The need to raise the cost of a stamp incrementally, from the 3 cents one stamp cost in Grandpa's day to the astronomical 44 cents per stamp now is telling. And rates are destined to rise still further.

With the advent of Internet and Email electronics we all knew that a death knell for the
US mail was audible across the land.

Now, when I affix my rubber stamp admonition to "Send More Snail", my motive, though contemporary in wanting to help the mail men and woman keep their jobs, is firmly secured with the bundle of snail I clutched on the car seat, heading back up the gravel driveway at 2009 Clay St.