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The Country Post Office

| 9/25/2014 2:37:00 PM

Mosquito Mountain Montana HomesteadWe went to a community retirement party last night. Tomorrow is the last day our postmistress will clock in with the USPS. She'll still be around the community (her husband holds a prominent position here) so we will see her around, and she's promised to come down to visit us in snowbird country some cold and snowy winter season. But her retirement brings out one of the lesser known aspects of the post office in small rural communities.

Before going further, I should define what I mean by "small rural communities." These are towns that very often boast of a church, a tavern, and a small gas station/convenience store. The lucky ones still have their own schools, but overall, I'm talking about very small communities. These are the towns where everyone knows whose check is good and whose husband (or wife) isn't!

These small post offices are becoming scarce as the post office seeks to cut costs. One community down the highway is losing their Post Office. There's just not enough volume to justify the expense. Ours will be going to reduced hours soon for the same reason.

But the post office is more than just a building where you pick up your mail. It's often the information and socialization hub of the small community. It's the place where picking up your mail may take 15 or 20 minutes or sometimes more. That's not due to poor service or long lines either. The best service you'll ever get is in one of these small post offices. That's because you are friends, and occasionally related to, the people working there.

Hartline, Wash. | 

The Hartline, Washington, Post Office is housed in a historic building built around 1907. The population of the small community numbers 155 as of the 2012 Census. Photo:

9/27/2014 10:53:10 PM

Dave; Thanks for sharing those memories. The small town where I was born became a bedroom community then when the boom jobs that brought that brief growth spurt ran out it suffered the same fate as yours. Very sad. Steve

9/26/2014 8:29:33 AM

Steven, small town living is indeed a different way of life. I started life a few miles outside of a town of 350. Still today after 60 some years have passed, the town is still has about the same population. It was a town where folks sat on main street Saturday nights to catch up with everyone both in the town and in the rural areas. For a quarter you could see the one weekly showing of the movie and buy a box of popcorn for fifteen cents. After the movie, everyone seemed to gravitate to the creamery for icecream before heading home. My grandfather was the town sheriff and my grandmother ran the small diner. Their was two gas stations, three churches, and a school that housed kindergarten through high school. Today the café is gone, the creamery is gone, the movie theatre is gone, and only the bones of days past remains. Some of my best memories come from those early life eight years of living in the small town. ***** Have a great small town day.

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