It’s noon at the Danville Post Office. Manager Jane Allen swaps jokes with a patron who catches up on local news posted on the community bulletin board. Allen and her clientele continue a relationship valued within rural towns and villages across America. In these locales post offices are essential centers where residents come together and connect. They also provide needed services for small business owners and the Amish. Today, technological innovations including email and social media call into question the future of paper mail. While the Gambier Post Office continues to thrive, budget issues threaten to close the Brinkhaven Post Office, thus interrupting a vital source of community identity and well-being. This U.S. Mail wagon formerly completed Rural Free Delivery (R.F.D.) service in Knox County. For county residents unable to drive, a post office within walking distance is essential.
“If you are in the post office, you know that you are from here. Closing suburban post offices isn’t a big deal, but it’s more of a loss in urban and rural areas, where they are centers of social activity. ” Alison Furlong, Gambier patron
“The sense of community in Brinkhaven is around the post office because it is the only thing in the com- munity. Residents will come in and ask if I’ve seen a neighbor because she is always at the post office by nine fifteen. If she isn’t there by ten they will send an alarm and knock on her door to check on her. Where else can you go like that?” Jane Allen, Brinkhaven postmaster/Danville office manager
“The postmasters call me by name. They get treats at Christmas, they give me little valen- tines. If I stand around the post office long enough on a Saturday morning, I’ll see almost everybody I know.” Alice Straus, Gambier patron
The Gambier Post Office, depicted here in 1895, has long been a community gathering place. Courtesy Kenyon College Special Collections
The antique glass-front boxes at the Danville Post Office are material reminders of its deep history.
This U.S. Mail wagon formerly completed Rural Free Delivery (R.F.D.) service in Knox County. For county residents unable to drive, a post office within walking distance is essential.
Post office employees remember box numbers of residents who moved away years ago. One Gambier clerk knows not only everybody’s names but also their birthdays. Courtesy Kenyon College Special Collections
In Gambier, the post office offers a unique, 24-hour meeting space. Courtesy Kenyon College Special Collections
Visiting the post office is a daily ritual for people of all ages.