Armed and delivered

(Editor's note: this is the third and final installment in a series of articles examining the history of the Post Office in Wadena and surrounding towns.)...

(Editor's note: this is the third and final installment in a series of articles examining the history of the Post Office in Wadena and surrounding towns.)

In 1921, the postmaster general issued an order requiring all essential post office personnel to carry arms for the purpose of coping with the wave of hold ups which have been so manifest lately. The guns and ammunition were to come from government stores. Thus Miss Mabel Boyd, postal clerk, would be required to carry a Colt's revolver while on duty. You younger people didn't know Mabel Boyd. She was a wonderful lady and clerk for many, many years. I knew her well and it is a little difficult for me to envision Mabel with a government-issue Colt 45 strapped to her thigh.

The other big news that year was that the post office received a stamp canceling machine which would enable them to handle mail in a much faster manner.

In March 1923, with the advent of free city delivery, supposedly on April 1, it was announced that the city encountered delays in renaming the streets and was forced to await favorable weather to install permanent street signs. Also local carriers blossomed out with regulation uniforms. Two carriers served 320 families.

In 1927, it was announced that a Star or Contract route was to be established between Wadena and Park Rapids with E.N. Dobbs as carrier using his car. If demand requires it a truck was to be used later. A short time later, A.R. Zimmerman won the route for a period of four years.


In 1931, a Northwest Airways Ford tri-motored airplane, part of a group of planes inaugurating air mail service between Winnipeg and the Twin Cities, was forced down in Wadena on its initial trip due to heavy fog. This link was part of an airline mail route running from Aklavik, Canada to Buenos Aries, Brazil.

For the benefit of old, old timers like myself I would like to list postal employees in 1931 other than those listed above: Carroll Haughey, Nilo Koivisto and Howard Maroney, clerks; Cleo Flenner, special deliveries, and J.L. Husband, Peter Holper, Ezra Deyo, John Rice, and N.J. Vanderhoef, rural carriers. Of course I cannot omit my good friend Lee Lamson who went to work at the post office in 1958. He wrote a great article about his years in the post office which is on file at the Historical Society.

In early 1933, because of the Depression, city carriers due to terms of the national economy act were required to take nine furlough days, without pay during the next three months. As there was no allowance for hiring substitutes, Postmaster Breher determined that mail service to city patrons would not include afternoon mail deliveries to residential sections on Wednesdays and Fridays. It was also noted that the post office department expected to save $9.5 million under the economic plan during the next three months.

On Jan. 1, 1936, Joseph Mettel replaced George N. Breher as postmaster. Mettel announced that 1935 was the largest mail delivery year in the history of the post office and in the three days preceding Christmas 25,975 letters were cancelled with parcel post proportionately large.

In 1940, old time rural carrier N. J. Vanderhoef retired and a civil service examination was given with 107 applicants. He was finally replaced by Harry Gleason. In 1941, Joseph Mettel retired as postmaster to be replaced by Roy Ireland.

In 1940, with World War II looming, all aliens over the age of 14 in Wadena County were required to register at the Wadena post office.

A week in May 1941 was designated as Rural Mail Box Improvement Week when all rural patrons were urged to put their mail boxes in first class shape.

There is of course much more to the post office story but the later years will have to be in another article.


The whole postal business has changed so much with the automation of mail handling machinery and regional collection and sorting points along with the huge increased volume of mail handled. Also in early years the mail was carried by the Railway Postal Service. Now days all is handled by truck or airplane.

I don't know the answer but I am sure that UPS, Fed Ex and e-mail have altered the picture somewhat.

I would also like to mention a few old time Postmasters that are still gracing our lives. John (Gordon) Askew, Warren (Punk) Gaslin and Roberta Brinkman. They are still going strong.

A great amount of information was supplied to me by Marilynn Uselman which would be included in a later article and is on file at the Historical Society.

I think we are all blessed to have our local post office working so smoothly and efficiently. Just think, for 42 cents, you can mail a letter to almost any location in the world. Quite an accomplishment.

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