My father was a mailman in Charleston, South Carolina. His route was the old historic section.
He was more than just the mailman. He was like a member of the family to his patrons. He was loved and trusted.
In those days, many left their front doors unlocked and he delivered the mail inside their homes to them.
Often they would put out refreshments for him, including cold, sweet tea, which was always a welcome break from pounding the hot streets carrying a heavy bag of mail over his shoulders. (No mail trucks in those days).
He took his lunch break sitting at the battery, watching the ocean waves and the sea gulls flying over. He said he often used this peaceful time to count his blessings.
He was blessed in that he was just old enough to miss the draft and he did not have to go to war.
Families eagerly waited for any word from loved ones fighting the war. Daddy paid special attention to any incoming letters that might soothe their fears.
At one point, the letters from a beloved son stopped. All feared he had been lost. One day, late in the day, a letter arrived from the son. Daddy’s boss told him to hold it and just deliver it the next day.
He said he could not imagine letting that poor family suffer another second without knowing. He got permission to deliver it that evening on his own time.
It was a simple measure of the man he was … a man of compassion. The family celebrated as did the son when he came home. And years later, they still talked of that beautiful evening when Mr. Horace brought them good news.
There were two other parents who also looked to Daddy for more than mail. Their two little boys often wanted to cross the street. Their mothers could not supervise them all the time. They were told they were never to cross the street unless it was with Mr. Horace.
So frequently he found two little boys eagerly awaiting his arrival. Many years later, I chanced to see one of those boys (then a man) on tv. He was in an important public position. I wondered if he remembered the days when he crossed the street with the mailman.
After many years in Charleston, Daddy had the opportunity to return to his hometown of Fairfax, South Carolina. He became a rural mail carrier.
He carried the mail to new patrons who lived out in the country where he had grown up. As he said jokingly, “I knew every pig path out there.”
As in Charleston, he provided far more services than just delivering mail. Once the word spread that Mr. Horace knew how to kill snakes, he was often met hysterically by people like me, who wanted nothing to do with things that slither and rattle. And like the rescuer he was, he got out his hoe and took care of them.
Some boys decided to play a joke on Daddy by catching one of the harmless grass snakes and putting it in the mail box. The first time it happened, he was surprised.
The next few times, he understood what was happening. So when he opened the box and found the snake, he took it out, put the mail in, and then returned the snake to the box. He said that was the last time he ever found a snake in the box. One should never try to prank a prankster.
He delivered mail to an elderly couple who lived way out in the country. When the wife died, the old man continued living there. As he was very lonely, he looked forward to Daddy coming by each day.
Daddy provided extra times of comfort for him. But then came the day when Daddy received what he called his most unusual request.
The man came out to the mailbox with his wet washcloth and asked Daddy if he could please wash his back. He said his wife used to do it for him, and since she died, there was no one to help him.
Daddy said he was surprised, but felt he could do nothing less. I think Jesus smiled, as He used Daddy’s hands extended.
There are many more memories of Daddy’s time delivering the mail. Besides the stories he shared with me, many others told me of his mercy and compassion.
When Daddy was promoted to Heaven at age 96, I feel sure Jesus said to him,
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”