The Way We Were by Colin Ella

Colin Ella Part 41 - The Welcome Postie.
Colin Ella Part 41 - The Welcome Postie.

Today we seem to have more female posties than men and perhaps the men are seeking better pay somewhere or they have risen to driving the vans around or some indoor duty.

We had the same post lady for years but lately we are back to a male. He brings the letters between eight and ten o’clock each morning and can soon be observed making his way back to the post office, his full round completed in a pretty short time. The job is still arduous but is now a far cry from that of some decades ago when a postman routinely walked or cycled twenty or even thirty miles in the course of his round, although such a labour was not always a daily task.

As a lad I never saw my own father on weekday mornings. He used to get up at 4.30 am to get down to Dunsville Post Office ready to start off on a postal cycling tour that would take seven or eight hours to complete. It was an itinerary that included rides of several miles in all weathers to simply gain access to very remote houses, but these did not get and did not expect a daily delivery.

In many a country area such as the Yorkshire Dales the postman was far more that just a bringer of mail. He often brought a few eggs, a pheasant, a brace of partridges or a rabbit. Sometimes he brought the newspapers but for most folk his main value for them was that he brought along the latest news and local gossip.

Sometimes these rural postmen left letters in allotment sheds or farm barns by arrangement, for blundering around in remote country districts in the dark was no joke.

Just as I said of our paper boys and girls a short while ago, we should be thankful for our posties too for their daily trudge to our doors is often a trying affair, especially when unfriendly dogs are around and on the loose. Thankfully they do not have to suffer those long hours and long and difficult rounds of their forebears.

I remember Postman Holmes of Hatfield cycling back to the post office one occasion on a bitterly cold winter’s evening after a long day’s work. He had a habit of riding with his mouth wide open and a schoolmate of mine threw a snowball at him and it simply totally disappeared into his mouth. Mr Holmes turned purple with rage and leaping from his bike he chased my mate over several back gardens, caught him, and gave his ears a very severe cuffing. It was, to my mind, a summary and totally appropriate justice. What a pity that in our times poor Mr Holmes would have been up for assault!

Next week in Part 42 - Those Silent Reminders.