Early Mail Carriers Endured Tough Roads In Winters
By Charles Cooper
Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good Christmas week. I noted with interest the announcement of Mr. William Wilson’s 93rd birthday. Coincidentially, I received a letter from him that same day. He had tried to email me during the time I was having some problems with my DSL service and was about to change carriers. Luckily, we got that straightened out and my email address will remain the same.
Back to Mr. Wilson who has contacted me before. I never met Mr. Wilson, but I did know Sidney and Rachel. In the early days of this column I would hear from Rachel from time to time. She and Lupe had worked together briefly in the 70s.
Mr. Wilson told me that his father, Marion Wilson, started delivering mail in 1908 in a buggy. They were called letter carriers in those days. His mother had been a teacher, but became a full-time housewife after marrying his dad.
Nannie Badley did the same thing after she married Papa Badley. Mr. Wilson recalled his dad bought his first car in Paris and had to bring gasoline from Water Valley. A car was such a rarity that when he would approach a one-room school, the teacher would let the children go out to watch him pass by.
He said that the first car he remembered was a Model T with carbide headlights and kerosene carriage lamps, and gas would still have to be brought from Water Valley. Once a bridge washed out and since he couldn’t cross with a car or buggy, he saddled a horse and made the rest of the route on horseback.
In the winter, when the roads were impassible, he would drive a buggy with two horses. With two horses, they could walk in the ruts and the buggy wheels would be in the ruts. A buggy trip from Water Valley to Paris started before daylight and lasted until after dark. He said that after Mrs. Annie Key Woods-Mauldin became Post Mistress, she told Mr. Wilson to stop the star routes from Paris to Banner. She said if they wanted the mail delivered, the roads would have to be improved. I knew Miss Annie Keya – she was a strong-willed lady and usually got her way. This would have been about the time the new Post Office was built and is still in use.
I’ve heard this would have been about 1927 and if I’m in error, I feel sure that someone will let me know. Mr., Wilson also commented on an earlier column I had written about Hwy. 7 being paved only on one side. He explained that the reason was that Mississippi was poor and they thought that by paving one side, they could pave twice as far.
He said the stretch ran from Water Valley to Joe Willie Adams Drive. There was a mile of straight, flat pavement called Wagner Stretch. He said they would get their cars up to 70 miles an hour.
Mr. Wilson, they were still doing it in my time.
Back to the partially paved highway–on old Hwy. 6, they paved the highway from Oxford to Pontotoc – in the middle. It’s nothing short of a miracle that there weren’t more head on collisions. as everyone drove on the paved part of the road. Mr. Wilson, I thought your letter was so interesting that I copied it almost word for word. I understand you write for a Florida publication and my best to you on that and let me hear from you from time to time.
Since most of you have read my Christmas tree story, I decided to forego it as Mr. Wilson’s letter was much more interesting. My thanks to Margie Baggett Landon in Irving, Texas, for writing again, but constraints of space won’t permit me to include your interesting comments about the Water Valley school.
I”ll get to that next week. Thank all of you for your support and to each of you a very Merry Christmas. My email address is still charlescooper3616@sbcglobal,net or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and again a Merry Christmas to all.