Crothersville Postmaster Carolyn King will close her 37-year career with the local post office Friday. A reception honoring her will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 2, in the post office lobby.
Carolyn King, Crothersville’s postmaster for nearly 20 years, will retire this Friday.
King began working at the local post office as a city carrier in December 1980 delivering mail and packages to homes in Crothersville. In 1985, she was elevated to clerk but still helped carry daily mail deliveries when needed.
In September 1998, she was named postmaster replacing the retiring Cheryl Trisler.
What will she miss about not being at the post office lobby window? “Oh, the customers,” she said. “The post office in a small town is a social place. An unofficial meeting area where friends share what has gone on in their lives. I will miss that friendly, caring atmosphere.”
While postal customers could conduct business at Crothersville beginning at 8 a.m. when she opened the roll-up door at the lobby window, King’s day always began at 6:30 a.m., when she’d sort, case, get mail ready for carriers to deliver before opening to the public.
There have been many changes with small town post offices over the past 20 years. Some post offices have closed; others, like Crothersville, are open fewer hours.
“Probably the biggest change I have been a part of is the implementation of automation,” said King. Prior to that it took two clerks an hour and a half to sort the mail for delivery. “Now it comes in from Indianapolis already sorted to carrier route and in the sequence it is to be delivered.” That’s the barcode—those tiny lines below an address or mailing label—that helps to get the mail delivered more efficiently.
Another change King observed is that the volume of mail—letters and flats— has decreased as more people receive and pay their bills—as well as read magazines and newspapers—online.
“But, because of the internet…specifically internet shopping… the number of packages we deliver has increased,” King said. “Amazon has been a good thing for the postal service.”
And because of the increase in package delivery, the post office is now a partner with UPS, a former competitor.
Her most memorable experience with the post office? King said shortly after becoming postmaster there was a wooden building—originally the old Lewis Lumber Company— just east of the post office across the alley that caught fire.
“The fire department worked at putting out the fire and kept spraying the post office with water to keep it from catching fire while we anxiously worked inside at preparing the mail for delivery,” said King. “Finally, the fire chief said that we needed to evacuate.”
“But we had all of this mail that had been partially sorted and we couldn’t just leave it in the building,” recalled King.
“Everybody pitched in and we started pulling all the mail, putting it in totes and placing it in our mail delivery vehicle. It took us 15 minutes to clear the post office of all the mail, get it into a the truck, and then we secured the vehicle offsite.”
“Before long the fire department gave us the ‘all clear’ and we brought the truck back to the post office, called in some substitute carriers to help re-case the mail. It was hectic but because everyone pitched in, it all got delivered that day just a little later than usual,” King said.
After that frenetic time, King said she stepped out to buy a soft drink. During her break, her supervisor, who had been notified of the fire emergency, called to see how things were going.
“The clerk who answered the phone told him, ‘Everything is fine. We’re delivering the mail. Carolyn is out getting a drink.’ He reportedly replied, ‘Well, I guess I can’t blame her’,” the postmaster said with a giggle.
What will she be doing in her new non-post office life?
“Oh, I have a lot of things to do at home that have always been placed on the back burner,” she said. But first, she may visit her parents and brother at their Florida homes as a transitional respite.
“I’m sure that there will be things to come up to occupy my time,” she said.
Troy Lovegrove, a North Vernon resident, who was a city carrier in Crothersville for a period of time, has been named Officer In Charge of the Crothersville Post office until a new postmaster is named.