Tuesday morning I had the pleasant assignment of going to the Helena Post Office to take a photo of all the canned goods the local letter carriers picked up Saturday in their annual Stamp Out Hunger drive. Stepping into the back room where the letters are sorted and readied for delivery was a like a brief journey into the past for me.

Tuesday morning I had the pleasant assignment of going to the Helena Post Office to take a photo of all the canned goods the local letter carriers picked up Saturday in their annual Stamp Out Hunger drive. Stepping into the back room where the letters are sorted and readied for delivery was a like a brief journey into the past for me.

You see, my dad was a postal worker for over a quarter of a century. During my growing up period in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he worked very odd hours. His shift was from noon to five and six to nine on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. His days off were Wednesdays and Sundays.

So, after I reached school age I didn't get to see him a whole lot. He was up for breakfast and frequently took me to school. However, he was hard at work when I came home for lunch and when school was dismissed for the day. I got to see him for an hour at supper time and Mom would let me stay up until a little after 9 when he got home and then it was off to bed.

Occasionally on Saturday evenings, Mom, Mike and I would walk to the post office (Mom didn't like to drive). However, it was just a few blocks away. We even left the house unlocked and the windows wide open while we were away. Dad would let us in the office, sit me up on a desk while he sorted the mail. We would usually leave when the big mail truck arrived loaded with letters and packages. Dad would help the driver unload and fill the truck up for its return trip to Memphis, Tennessee.

There were times Dad would bring his work home with him, literally. Every so often, he would have to take a postal exam. He had to study what pigeonhole (P.O. Box) specific letters had to go. This was way before Zip Codes and Zip Code machines. Every single thing was done by hand, quickly.

Apparently, the test was timed because I remember him practicing pulling out the cards and sorting them as fast as he possibly could.

For years he kept those old cards that had the names of every Arkansas community printed on them. That is every community that had a post office and back then the greatest majority of them did.

At one time, Dad was a letter carrier but that was back before I can remember or perhaps even before I was born. He started out as what the post office called a “sub” back in those days. He would take the route of any carrier that was unable to make it to work that day.

Over the years, he worked his way up the ranks to postal clerk and at one time postal supervisor. That was a chore that I don't think he was terribly fond of doing. Like me, he wasn't much into supervisory work or a bossing capacity. Altering schedules could be quite a daunting task when involving some less than cooperative co-workers.

Dad retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 1974. A severe case of arthritis forced an early retirement.

While he sometimes made teasing remarks about the post office, he would have been the first to admit that the U.S. Postal Service was good to him and his family.