Living on the West End: A memory
By Bill Shepard
I have heard it said many times that one picture is worth a thousand words. I don’t know if that is true or not. This I do know: The picture of the Old Post Office building on the front page of the March 4 News & Press has awakened a lot of memories in this old writer’s mind.
On some of my visits to Darlington and passing by the empty building, I have thought, “What a shame that old building looks so neglected and uncared-for!” I was so pleased that perhaps now it has a chance to live again and add beauty to the entrance of the town square, as it once did.
As I viewed the picture and read the stories before me, memories of a time long ago flowed through my mind and I began seeing faces that have long disappeared from our view. I was back in time nigh 75 years, when I was employed inside the old giant on Pearl.
The year was 1945! I was in search of a job and found one at the Post Office. I was a substitute for anyone who wanted or needed a day off! My main job was to deliver the Parcel Post. Below is a list of names of the people employed at the Post Office and their positions. Not one of the group is alive today, but there may be relatives who are. If I have misspelled a name, please forgive!
Postmaster: Frank Bynum
Asst. postmaster: Bill Hursey
Window clerk: Carrie Reeves
Window clerk: Mr. Caddell
Dispatcher: Mr. Purvis
Dispatcher: Sam Young
There were four city mail routes at that time:
1. Clyde Lane
2. Harry Lee Lambert
3. David Ervin
4. Sam Farmer
This writer, Bill Shepard, served as a substitute for each of the above. I have said a number of times that there is hardly a street in Darlington where I have not left a footprint!
There were three rural routes:
2. Mr. Fields
3. Mott Pearce
The custodian was an elderly gentleman, Mr. Serverance.
When I applied for work at the Post Office, I got what I asked for! Mr. Bynum once said to me, “Shepard, you and I are the only people here who can be paid for overtime work, and I’m the postmaster!” It was his way of saying, “You will have to work!” Mr. Bynum was a good man and I enjoyed my work there.
On days when I worked as a mail carrier, I would start early. When I finished that job, I would then deliver the Parcel Post over the town and villages. I would hurry home for a quick snack before returning to the Post Office to help the night dispatcher until 11 p.m. I worked each night from 8-11 p.m.
The last truck (Star Route) bringing mail from Cheraw, Dovesville and Bennettsville arrived at 10:45 p.m. We cased all of that mail, looked for special delivery letters and wrote them up for early morning delivery the next day, then locked the Post Office and went home. I was back early the next morning.
My days at work were long and tiring, but the pay of 90 cents an hour was good for the times. I was a grown man, 23 years old.
Now, looking at the picture on the front page of the newspaper and the one that stares back at me from the mirror, what can I say? Considering the years we have been here, I suppose we have both done well.