Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Down at the Station


August 9, 2017

I was reminded the other day about the convenience we have with our mail. In late August and early September, as recent as the 1960 's, was big for the mail, and the railroads. It was then that the big department store companies put out their Christmas catalogs. I have talked before about the postal service, before they handled packages, and how there were express companies that did that. Yes like FedEx and UPS, the largest probably Railway Express.

The bulk of the mail, and express traveled by train until trucks and airplanes could do it faster. Most post office sorting centers in the large cities were located next to the railroad yards. When the big mail order companies issued their latest catalogs they might have sent several freight car loads of catalogs to be distributed by local companies, later by the post office. If the town was a really big one, like Denver, they might have even gotten a whole train load of the latest Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs.

At the stations in Fountain, yes they might arrived at either station depending upon where they were coming from, the catalogs came in big bundles. It would take some time to get them ready to be delivered. In some towns they were delivered like the new phone books are now. Just dropped on the front porch. However, in places like Fountain that catalog was seen as a thing of value. The folks out on the farms used them for picking out Christmas presents, or in March or April, for the things they wanted for Summer! So commonly everyone knew them as "Wish books."

The biggest days at the post office were catalog days and Christmas, when orders arrived. It had been the same for the express companies before the post office handled packages.

The postal clerk, or the Postmaster if it was a little town, could usually tuck the mail bag under their arm, until it was a big mail day. Then they might want to bring a horse and wagon. They had to meet almost every train, because those carried the mail. When the post office stopped using the railroads, that is when some railroads stopped running!


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