How did you come to work for the post office?
My working for the post office was so much an accidental thing that you’d almost have to think that God had a hand in it! In my first two years of college, all I thought about was football and golf. I was studying accounting and business courses, because I was good at math and typing. My focus on sports and school changed when I met Betty Jo Farris on August 20, 1961. All I wanted to do from that point forward was to marry her and for us to have a family together. You may ask, ‘What does that have to do with working for the post office?’
I was introduced to the post office by Ocie Milner, the postmaster there, who was the father of one of my guitar students in Quitman. He told me how he had been given that job through the patronage system. That system involved getting your appointment from a senator or president who rewarded his supporters with postmaster or rural carrier positions when they became vacant. I know that system stunk, but thank God it wasn’t changed until I got my rural carrier position.
When Betty and I moved back to Midway in 1966, we did so because we were starting our family, and I didn’t want to move my kids around like my dad did us. Didn’t know exactly what I was going to do for a living….I bought a service station from Betty’s brother Don Farris…when it burned down in 1967, I got a job as a carpenter’s helper with a crew from Vick Lumber Yard.
I was preaching at both the Midway Church of Christ & the Mount Tabor church. Each church was paying me about $50 per week and, when Ben was born in November of 1966, I knew I needed to make more money than that–so I took the job with M.Y. Vick.
We were building the Methodist parsonage on Panama Street here in Madisonville, and our lead carpenter on the job was Curtis McVey, one of the guys from the Mt Tabor church. He popped off one day and said, “Preacher, you ought to throw your hat in the ring for one of those new mail carrying jobs at the post office.”
Up until 1967, if you lived in the city limits of Madisonville. you had to have a PO box or pick up your mail in what was called General Delivery. They were creating two new City routes in Madisonville, and they were taking applications to take the Civil Service test for those positions, plus one substitute who would also carry a parcel route for all the businesses around the square.(this was pre-UPS and FedEx).
I turned in the application, but forgot to go take the test. The postmaster at that time was Mr.Lynn Ratliff. He came driving up to our house in Midway, asking me, “Lanier, why in the world didn’t you go take that test? Now I’m going to have to hire a woman for one of the new city routes, because out of the five men who took the test, only one of them passed it!” Geraldine Hahn was on the hiring roster, but they (at that time) only hired women for clerk jobs inside the Post Office.
Lynn wanted me to have the job real bad, and he told me he was going to hire me anyway to be the sub and parcel man in his office. It turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened, because I was in exactly the right place at the right time due to some major changes that were to take place in the postal service in 1967 and 1968. That all is another story for another day! :)) Dad