If walls could talk: Tales of the old Post Office

by Bill Shepard

 Ah, the stories that one could hear if walls could talk. When I heard the news about the happenings at the old Post Office building in Darlington, I wanted to leap for joy! On some of my visits to Darlington and passing along Pearl Street, I paid attention to the old building and thought out loud, “Why doesn’t someone do something with the old Post Office?” It appeared so forgotten and thrown away. I read the story someone sent to me and a part of my own past began to flow. Memories of the time that I worked inside the big old building were awakened and I was back in time. I learned from the story I was reading that the Post Office was built in 1912, just 10 years old when this old writer made his first appearance in Darlington. I enlisted in the Army early after Pearl Harbor, and after two years of service, I was given a medical discharge and told that my working days were over and especially so at the big cotton mill where I had worked before going to the Army. I cannot recall how I learned about the need at the Post Office for an employee, and it would have been the last place I would have thought of seeking a job, but there I was. The year was early 1944 and Frank Bynum was the postmaster and Bill Hursey was assistant postmaster. They both talked with me and explained what my job would be. I was being hired to deliver parcel post and to serve as a substitute mail carrier for each of the four city carriers. The names of the four carriers were Clyde Lane, David Ervin, Harry Lee Lambert and Sam Farmer. At one time or the other, I delivered mail on each of their routes. I have said many times that there is not a street in Darlington where I have not made tracks. It seemed that there was seldom a day that one of the four carriers was not off, and on those days, I carried the mail and when I came in from that job, I had to deliver the parcel post. On those days Hursey would have often separated the mail according to streets and that was a great help. After the above work each day, I would hurry home (rode my bicycle), eat a quick lunch and then hurry back to the Post Office to finish my day’s work. Every night I assisted Carrie Reeves, the night dispatcher, from 8-11 p.m. The last Star Route came from Cheraw by truck and delivered the mail pouch, picked up one and moved on. Mrs. Carrie and I would hurriedly go through the incoming mail in search for Special Delivery letters. They had to be dealt with immediately (there were not many)! We could case the other mail. It would then be my job to lock the doors and then I would go home. The next day I would start over and repeat the routine. Bynum once said to me, “Mr. Shepard, you and I are the only ones that are allowed to work overtime and be paid for it and since I am the postmaster, that leaves you!” I often wondered what the doctors who signed my discharge from the Army and said my working days were over would have said if they had followed me on any one of my days at the Post Office. It was a rare day that I only worked an eight-hour shift. I had asked for a job and I was given one. As I was writing this article for the newspaper, I relived a lot of beautiful memories from that time long ago. It seemed I could hear Mrs. Carrie calling one morning from her position at the window where she sold stamps, etc., each morning. Our first child had been born only a few days before. She would talk with friends who came each morning to check for mail. Mrs. Carrie would say, “Mr. Shepard, tell my friend what you have at your house.” I would answer, “I have a baby boy!” Many are the stories from that time long ago. Some are as fresh in my mind as if they were just happening. Some you might could hear if walls could talk! Below is a list of all the employees at the Post Office when I was there: · Frank Bynum – postmaster · Bill Hursey – assistant postmaster · Carrie Reeves – morning window clerk and night dispatcher · E. Purvis – dispatcher · Sam Young · Mr. Caddell · Charles Severance – custodian · Clyde Lane, David Ervin, Harry Lee Lambert, Sam Farmer There were four rural carriers (I can only remember two): · Mott Pearce · Mr. Fields





Author: Rachel Howell

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