My Life At the Post Office


The chroniclers of all things Raleigh at Good Night have written an eloquent eulogy for the Horne Street Post Office.(Link)

My memories recapitulated below as posted at Good Night (with minor additions and inclusions):

Yes, I lived at the Post Office! (See my 1976 Driver’s License image)

As a “resident” since 1975 “University Station” has been the cornerstone of my life in the “village” of Hillsborough St.

When I first set up camp Horne Street Post Office literally had the look and feel of something right out of the 1940′s and 50′s.

Just like a Humphrey Bogart movie the entry vestibule featured probably the only (or one of the few) revolving doors in Raleigh with some fine vintage stained woodwork and trim to complete the mid Century ensemble.

I forget exactly when they “modernized” with additional boxes and relocated the service counter to the left of the entry way, painted everything green with matched paneling and replaced the revolving door with a feeble stab at energy efficiency which featured a type of airlock arrangement with two sets of glass doors enclosed in a glass box to keep heat and cooling costs down.

It was NOT an improvement by any standard.

The “airlock” setup was a short lived experiment which changed(again!) to the current single french door arrangement a few years later.

The Bureaucrats-that-be have tried to close “University Station” since the 1980′s but some old time professors at NC State and a fellow by the name of Otis Jones would raise holy heck every time the topic arose.

Those guys are all gone now and I believe the School now has their own mail processing center to replace the trucks which formerly drove over from campus once or sometimes twice a day.

Mail Service to us civilians had high spots and low spots over the years.

One real high spot was a young lass who would put up mail on Sunday on her own time to “get a jump on the Monday mail trucks”

If she was working and a fella had a package pickup, you could holler over the wall and she would come out from the behind the locked door to give it to you even though it was not *Official Business Hours*.

Some of the low points were funny and sometimes not so funny.

Back when mail order computer programs came on 5.25 diskettes a $125.00 piece of software arrived folded in half to fit my tiny box.

Needless to say, hilarity ensued with that little fandango.

To be fair, no one behind the counter knew what a computer really was or did in those days, so my little Apple IIc had to suffer without programming for several weeks.

About two years ago I suspect we old timers were deliberately assigned an “axeman”– a Temporary Postmaster who just raised holy heck with customers and boxholders.

Signs went up about improper cell phone use, a red line appeared on the floor behind which everyone was instructed to stand until called to be served, and most obnoxious, a vinyl notice on the door which outlined the penalties for armed robbery of a postal installation.

In 35 years I can not remember a single instance when I thought someone was about to go “postal” until that Postmaster and sign appeared.

Maybe such incidents might have been common in other parts of the country, but not on Horne St. She sure seemed to have an idea she could make something happen right here in Raleigh.

In little over six months traffic at Horne Street crashed and nearly halted completely.

No doubt that particular Postmaster has gone on to a bigger and better job at the Transportation Security Agency because the traffic statistics mysteriously justified a cutback in service after her reign of terror concluded which further diminished patronage so lo and behold the “little Post Office that could” was finally doomed.

In any case, I am now one of a small group of refugees forcefully relocated to Cameron Village en bloc-our address intact complete with our own zip code.

I suggested to the current Postmaster there should be a closing ceremony complete with speeches and a brass band.

He is a nice guy but he did not seem to understand my meaning or the reason I thought it would be appropriate.


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