Post officers were centers of activity

As we continue looking at our history just before our becoming a state, we note that much was going on in our Quay County. For one thing, the map was peppered with names of communities, many of which have been forgotten and most of which have few bits of their existence still showing.

Before 1912, we had at least 71 post offices scattered throughout the county, some of which had already been closed, but most of which were still in operation. According to the list in our book, “QUAY COUNTY: 1903-1985,” Liberty Post Office began its operation in 1880. Endee Post Office, which began in 1886, was one of the oldest remaining in operation until 1955. The Douglas Post Office began in 1901 and changed its name to Tucumcari in 1902. Now, we are fighting to keep five post offices in operation!

Those community post offices were great gathering places for the inhabitants and were often the center of most activity Sometimes, they were located in homes, and other times they were in small country stores. Those in the country stores were most definitely the center for gathering community news along with the mail. People could do their shopping, pick up the mail, visit with neighbors, eat a light country-store snack, and go home until time for the next trip.

The mail might be delivered from a center, such as Tucumcari, once a week. Watching for the mail hack or the rider to appear over the horizon was a bit of entertainment in itself and became a game for the children who might be in the vicinity. The store owner-post master would often award a prize of a piece of penny candy to the first child who sighted the mail hack approaching.

That post master then became the center of attention as he gave the outgoing mail to the driver, sorted the mail into the little boxes, and then handed mail to those standing around the stove waiting to see if they were lucky enough to receive a letter, a card, or a catalogue. Some even received newspapers and magazines to be shared with neighbors throughout the week. In some cases, several people remained at the store for longer periods because they didn’t want their neighbors to know they couldn’t read. Once those neighbors had gone home, the post master would then read whatever they might have received or would read some of the newspapers he had received.

This was one busy county as we were getting ready to become a state. Although we may have lost some of that population and most of the post offices, we can still be a wonderful place in which to live and can be proud as we celebrate our 100th birthday!