“Why I Live at the P.O.”

Thinking ’bout the South


Great New York Times article this morning on the vanishing of little post offices around this country. I was lucky enough to “come up,” as we say in the South, summering in a town which at the time wasn’t big enough to register as a town. There was no mail delivery (there still isn’t). Too mountainy. The roads are too narrow. So we had to go down to the P.O. to get our mail. Of course, we had to “go down” to get anything we might need because everything above us was wilderness. The world of human beings lay below. How we kids would bitch and moan about having to trudge down to get the mail. Because, of course, after the going down, there would a lot of steep climbing back up to get home. No matter where we went or what we did, there was always the climbing up. Always on foot, on our own two feet, in the steamy heat of a summer day or the scary pitch black of an evening. We complained while our mom told us to Get out of this house and don’t come back empty-handed. We were kids. Kids complain. But now I bless every day I had to walk to that post office. I miss the business of nosing into that room of funny, old-fashioned lock boxes, of running into this or that neighbor sorting junk mail into a giant round trash can. The older people would have driven down in their gigantic whales of old-people cars which they’d then ease back up to their driveways at .05 miles an hour. The pace of it! And our wonderful Post Mistress, Catherine, who had decorations and usually home-made cookies for holidays. It meant absolutely nothing to me then — or so I thought. But now it means the world.

The picture here–it’s a little piece of rug-hooking my mom did to commemorate things. Like everything she ever made, it says Here! Here I am! Here we are! This is Home! This is our town! The landmarks she chose to immortalize? From top to bottom: the local inn; the church–yes, round, with a red roof; our house, whose scale is blown up to be bigger than the inn (Here I am! mom was saying); at the bottom you see some stone gates. But that building with the flag in between: that’s the P.O. The Post Office. The hub. With its proud flag saying We’re official. This is an Official Place. I can feel my mother’s love of home in this piece. Mine too.

© i.e. ideas expressed 2011

About Amanda McTigue

Author. Director. Teacher. My debut novel, GOING TO SOLACE was named one of four "Best Reads of 2012" by public radio's KRCB "Word by Word." A collection of short stories, "Convergence," is due out in 2015. A second novel, "Monkey Bottom," will follow.
This entry was posted in Family, Going to Solace, Home, LIFE, Small Towns, The Little Things, The South and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “Why I Live at the P.O.”

  1. John McTigue says:

    Yes but do you remember before that when the P.O. was down on Assembly drive, a shack right across from where the ball field is now? I do, barely.

  2. amctigue says:

    I think that’s what Mom had in mind because she puts it to the right of our house winding down the mountain. Oh, I definitely remember that. And lugging the laundry down there for those long hot Sunday afternoons. But mostly I remember I’m a Farkle Box.

  3. David Eves says:

    I always thought that being able to walk everywhere was the best part of the summer. At home in the suburbs there was no place to walk to.

  4. amctigue says:

    I know, David. It makes me sad to think that there are so many kids now who’ve never had that experience. Especially the spookiness of walking home at night. So incredible to have been in a place that safe…

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