My working life at the St Marys Post Office.
I began working at the St Marys Post Office in 1965, first as a full-time employee for Australia Post, then part-time for many years. When the Post Office was privatised and sold to Peter (Wombat) Wilson I continued to work with him on a casual basis. What great times we had, Wombat, Peter Lohrey and myself. Wombat always had a joke to tell (or play on someone else).
I remember us wrapping up rose-coloured heart-shaped spectacles many times and handing them over to different customers who had been waiting for their new glasses to arrive. Wombat always asked the customers to undo their parcel and try on the glasses so we could see what they were like. The result was lots of laughter at the reaction from the customers, then their real parcel was taken from under the counter and handed over.
I recall at Christmas time, the two Peters joining in the festivities with the mail sorting bin being wheeled up and down the street, one Peter in the bin and the other Peter pushing from behind (the wheels have never been the same). Sweets were handed out to children when they came into the Post Office, and all the returns trips by the kids just checking to see if Mum or Dad had any mail today! (A supply of sweets were always on hand.)
The two Peters had pleasure wrapping up an emergency package for the newly-weds in town, not sure they were always appreciated, but a lot of fun. Telegrams were always made up and delivered in time for the wedding reception which sometimes caused some very red faces.
Then the Posties on their bikes, they used to have to blow their whistle when they put mail in your box, but this alerted the dogs and many a time the postie would arrive back at the Post Office looking for a bandaid or bandage – *x*x*x Dogs!! Then, whistles were finally banned. Way back in those early days on push bikes, rain, hail, frost or sunshine, they had to put up with a lot. Names I remember – Scott Bean, Peter Izard, Peta Thomas, Dave Green and Craig Freiboth.
Then Wombat sold the Post Office to new owners Harry and Kerry Veldums from the mainland. I worked full time with them for about a year until they got to know the members of the community after which I officially retired. I was asked to go back to work whenever they needed a holiday, which kept me from getting bored at home but also kept me up to date with all the changes with Australia Post. The increase of mail, especially parcels (thanks to internet shopping) has been incredible. Some mornings we would arrive for work and have to step over dozens of mail bags to start sorting letters while our Postie sorted parcels and large letters for St Marys, Bicheno, Coles Bay, Swansea and Scamander. Yes, it’s not just sorting mail for St Marys, it takes 3 people working from usually 6.30 am to about 8.30 am before the mail is done. Then there is John Goss who has the St Marys/Swansea contract and Bob Broadby with the St Marys/Derby contract waiting on staff to have all the bags tied up, and the roadside deliveries and private bags ready before they can head off. All the parcels then had to be scanned through the computer, mail sorted to private boxes and parcels carded. Then redirections and mis-sorts handled, and then hopefully a well-earned cup of coffee and time to open the doors.
Working at the Post Office I have met lots of interesting families from all walks of life – some stay, some move, some pass on. I have seen little ones born and grow up, some move away, some stay and take an active part in our community.
My time working at the St Marys Post Office has always been enjoyable and rewarding. I know I am going to miss the interaction with customers and getting to know all the new residents of St Marys.
Finally, I wish Sue and Barbara all the best for the future in their new venture at St Marys Post Office and hope they get as much enjoyment from being there as I have over the years.
Ruth McGiveron (Born and bred in St Marys)