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Our Small-town Post Office: Blanford, IN 47831

August 5, 2020


A Small-town Post Office: Blanford, IN 47831


By Alice Jane-Marie Massa


In the southwestern portion of the geographically long and narrow county of Vermillion is the small, rural town of Blanford. Regular readers of WORDWALK know that this Hoosier town was my beloved hometown (with a population of approximately 400). Although, during my early years, Blanford, Indiana, was blessed with three grocery stores, one park, and my aunt’s Italian restaurant–Jacksonville Grade School was the center of the community until its closing, due to consolidation, in 1961. After that sad day in May of 1961, I believe that our little third-class post office became the center of our community.


After the retirement of James Perona, my mother was appointed as postmaster, even with the seal of approval by President Dwight David Eisenhower, in 1955. Of course, Mother’s securing this position of postmaster of Blanford Post Office was exciting news for our extended family. Aunt Zita, my mother’s older sister, came to our home and was ready to begin the celebration.


Since I was only five at the time of this momentous occasion, I do not have a clear recollection of all what transpired with my Mother’s appointment; however, I have many warm and special memories of my mother as postmaster and of her post office. With all the recent discussions of the United States Postal Service, I thought sharing a few points about my hometown’s post office would be appropriate for this week’s blog post.


Since our Jacksonville Grade School had no kindergarten, I was not yet in school when my mother began working at the post office. Fortunately, my dad was working rotating shifts at that time; so, he was frequently at home with me. When he was working the day shift, I had to stay with either one of my grandmothers or with my Aunt Zita. Nevertheless, on rare occasions, my mother took me to the post office with her, ordered me to be very quiet, and allowed me to stay in the “back” (not lobby area) of the post office with her. Mother would talk with me until the bell on the door rang and someone entered the lobby of the post office. Then, suddenly, I had to be especially quiet while Mother greeted the person, as well as assisted the customer, if needed.


A mail carrier picked up the mail and delivered mail twice daily. This mail carrier was allowed to go into the back of the post office to pick up the big, canvas bags of mail and to deliver ones filled with mail for the residents of Blanford.


On the north side of the post office, my mother had a wooden, open box in which she kept empty mail bags. When the mail carrier was soon to arrive, she hid me under an empty mail bag and insisted that I be absolutely quiet. Amazingly, I obeyed.


Later, I learned to open the combination lock on our post office box number65. Also, I managed the fine art of depositing a piece of mail at the inside drop so that the envelope would fly over the holding bin onto the floor of the back of the post office. Too often, my mother picked up the piece of mail and said nothing to me. In the lobby of the post office, I looked through the photos and information about the most wanted people by the FBI. Jokingly, I remarked or wrote that “FBI” stood for “From Blanford, Indiana.”


Whenever possible, my friend Michael and I wanted to hoist or take down the flag, outside the post office’s northwest corner. Thanks to my years in Girl Scouts, I did know how to fold the flag properly at the end of the day.


During the holiday season, Mother decorated the large windows of the post office with strands of garland and Christmas balls. For her kindness to her postal customers, Mother often received some nice gifts. Mrs. Busy (Mrs. Bonariva) always made delicious waffle cookies (“Pizzelle”) with a special little waffle iron for my mother –for my family–at Christmas. These cookies were anise-flavored, and I loved this special treat. One year during the holidays, an older man whom my mother had assisted with his filling out documents (because he was not a citizen) carved from wood a cutting board, spoon and fork for her. Mother was very welcoming and kind to all of her patrons; and they, in turn, were kind and friendly to her.


During the later years of my mother’s twenty-eight-and-a-half years as postmaster, the post office became a morning gathering spot for all of the retired men of the small town. As they waited for the mail to arrive and for Mother to “put up” the mail, they talked about the news of our small town, our region, and the world. When my dad retired, he was a part of this gathering at the post office.


The little wooden post office was open from eight until five o’clock, Monday through Friday; it was open until noon on Saturday. While the lobby stayed open, my mother was able to take one hour off for lunch. (Most often, she went home for lunch.) Although my mother had two clerks (Margaret Marietta and Gladys Ball) working for her during the earlier years, she later had only one clerk–Marjorie (Margie) Natale who became the postmaster when my mother finally retired.


My mother loved being postmaster and having the opportunity to help others and to have contact daily with so many members of our rural community. She had been active in both the state and national organizations of postmasters and attended many conventions through her twenty-eight-and-a-half years as postmaster.


What I most fondly recall about our post office was Mother standing at the postal window and smiling so beautifully and happily at whomever entered the Blanford Post Office. One stamp was a nickel, but the memories are priceless.


Happy August!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


August 5, 2020, Wednesday



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  1. Dear Alice,
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of being the stowaway at the Blanford Post Office and of our mother, the Postmaster! As your older sister, I do recall the excitement around Mother’s appointment to the position. I remember seeing Aunt Zita, who was usually very calm, literally bounding up the back steps of our house announcing the news ahead of Mother. I also remember the very special celebration dinner that we hosted in our dining room for several important people who were influential in supporting Mother’s appointment. I think that getting a job at the Post Office today is quite different than the examination and appointment process that our mother was required to do. Mother did treasure her job all those years and enjoyed everyone who stopped by the Post Office each and every day. In fact, I have the wooden cutting board that was kindly given to Mother by one of her patrons. I used it for many years because it’s 8” x 7” size was perfect for small kitchen tasks. On the wooden handle are carved some letters worn by use, but more clearly remain the numerals 62 which must be the year Mother received the gift. Unfortunately, I do not have the wooden spoon and fork, but I do remember them. I have to chuckle when I think of you hiding quietly under the heavy canvas mail bags and also reading the names on the FBI Most Wanted poster! You and Mother were quite a team!

    • Hi, Mary–Thanks for adding your comments and recollections to this WORDWALK post.  I do recall the special dinner in our small dining room (before the big remodeling effort) for the several politicians.

          On my prior blog post (the one about ice cream), Lynda Lambert commented about this post office blog and asked a couple of questions which I answered.  Yes, the building, after a couple of remodels, does still stand.  When last I checked, the post office is still in business, but with reduced hours.  The husband of one of our cousins was in Blanford in June–a trip made all the way from Oregon.

      Take care, and talk with you soon–Alice and Willow

  2. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Another enjoyable visit to Blanford, IN!

    FBI–your sense of humor was developing even as you were a little girl, and you certainly had unusual reading material. Always like hearing about your small town and extended family. And mail delivery twice a day, wow! Glad the P.O. is still there.–Sue

    • Hi, Sue–I am always glad to read your impressions and appreciate your frequent feedback.

      Take care, and Happy August!

      Alice and Willow

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