This landmark was built in 1898 and has served the community of Ophir for well for over a century.
I struck up a conversation with the lady who was presently substituting for the regular Postmistress. She had been laid off recently and this elderly lady had just recently taken over as a fill in. Talk about a communicator; this gal was the sort of person you could sit down and yack with for hours on end.
I asked one question about the Postal Service and got a twenty-five minute dissertation on the subject. The first thing she pointed out was that the Pony Express was not in business to make money. Their objective was to deliver the mail and do so as quickly as possible. She said the present system is in much better shape than most people realize, and she was not supposed to dwell on that subject. I just kept my ears open and listened.
I was talking to someone who knew the system backward and forward and she took it very seriously. She was visibly upset because the regular postmistress had been laid off, so there was obviously something very important going on within the system. I did not probe any further because she was already becoming emotional and had to excuse herself because she was becoming tearful. I would have loved to have been able to photograph her, but that simply wasn’t in the cards. At least not today.
This incident reminded me of how my Appalachian project started off over forty years ago. I just happened to stop by an old grist mill back in Virginia, and met the original owner and ended up writing a story about The Passing of the Old Country Water Mill.
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