Going for the Mail With Granddad

The year was 1954, and I was 11 years old. I don’t remember how old Granddad was at the time, but at my age I figured he must be at least 100 or more. Of course he wasn’t, but to a young kid anyone over 50 was considered to be really old.

One day my Dad had Granddad’s old Ford truck at our house. I was curious about anything that had a motor and wheels on it, so I watched Dad while he worked on the old truck. Dad was installing a new set of tail lights on it. He told me that maybe with the new tail lights Granddad might not get run over, because people could see him in time to stop. Dad didn’t have a very high opinion of Granddad’s driving skills. Dad said the only reason that Granddad didn’t get killed, was because of all the other good drivers in the world. The old Ford truck wouldn’t go over 35 mph. under any conditions, which was probably a blessing for the family, especially Granddad. When the time came to take the truck back to Granddad, I asked if I could go along. Dad said I could, and we headed off to Granddad’s.

When we arrived at Granddad’s house, he was standing out in the road waiting for us. I could tell he was worried about his truck. Dad stopped the truck and got out to show Granddad the new tail lights. Granddad was impressed with them, but he was in a hurry to get away, because it was time for him to go after the mail. He was proud of the fact that he never was late getting the mail. He took his job seriously, and he never failed to get the mail to the train on time.

Granddad got in the truck and started to drive away, but before he did he stopped and asked me if I would like to go along? It took me all of a second to answer, that I sure would! Dad told me to go along, but to mind what Granddad told me to do.

We headed off to the post office to get the mail bags, that we were to take to the depot. The old truck wheezed and rattled to the post office, but to me it was a great ride. I would have given anything to own that old truck, to me it was the greatest truck in the world. I sure was proud to be in it with Granddad.

We picked up the mail at the post office, loaded it in the truck, and headed for the depot. The depot was only about a mile from the post office, but it seemed like it took an hour to get there.

When we got to the depot, there was no one else there and the place was locked up. Granddad had his own key, so he opened it up and we went inside. Now I thought Granddad must be real important to have a key to the depot. We didn’t stay in the depot for long, because we had to get out to the tracks and get the mail ready for the train, that was due at any time.

We carried the mail bag out to the hanger by the side of the tracks. Granddad hung the mail bag on the hooks that were provided, making sure to get it just right. He told me if it wasn’t just right, the train would miss it. Granddad was always telling me stories, so I figured he was this time. I knew that the train had to stop to get the mail off the hook. I couldn’t believe it when the train did come along and grab the mail bag off the hook and never even slowed down! Not only did they snatch the bag off the hook, but at the same time the threw out a couple of bags of mail that were to go back to the post office. Granddad told me there was a hook on the train that caught the bag, and then someone on the train would haul it inside. I watched the whole thing, but it happened so fast that I never did see the hook grab the mail bag. I went with him many times after that, and I was finally able to see the hook grab the bag. The real trick was when he had two bags on the hanger, and the train would get them both. I never did figure out how they did that.

After the train was gone we walked along the tracks and found the bags that they threw off. We picked them up and went back inside the depot.

Back inside the depot, Granddad showed me around the place. I can still remember the furniture, and the old pop belly stove in the center of the room. Everything was built to last for ever. The benches were made out of thick planks, and the walls were covered with rough boards, about four feet up. The depot was really just one large room, with the telegraph office being the only exception. The telegraph office was partitioned off from the main room, but it had a window for people to do business through. I looked through the window, but there wasn’t much to see. The only thing in the telegraph office was the key, with it’s speaker. Even though no one was in the office, the telegraph was making noise. Granddad told me that they never shut off the speaker, and the noise was a message going to another telegraph office some where down the line. I couldn’t believe the speed of the clicks coming out of the speaker, and I couldn’t figure out how anyone could possibly make any sense out of it.

We closed and locked the depot, and headed back t the post office, with the return mail. After dropping it off we headed back to Granddad’s house.

I went with Granddad many times after that first trip, and helped him carry the mailbags. He finally trusted me enough to let me hang the bags on the hook for the train, which was a real honor. Granddad and I had a lot of good times, and we talked about a lot of things on out trips to the old depot. Well, the depot is gone, and of course so is Granddad, but I will always remember the times we went there together.

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