Yeager says goodbye at Central
When Iris Yeager retired on Friday, July 30, as postmaster at the tiny Central Post Office, about 50 of her friends, who are also her customers, stopped in to say goodbye and wish her well. Iris is 73. She had been postmaster for 10 years and had worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 29 years.
When she left her office in what used to be a house, general store and grocery at the crossroads in Central that day at 4 o’clock, she left an institution that’s gradually fading away all across the country. Michael Peay, the acting manager for the U.S. Postal Service’s Kentuckiana District office in Louisville, said, ‘They don’t get much smaller than Central,’ but there are still a lot of small ones among the 800 post offices in his far-flung district.
‘We are looking at doing away with some of them, but there’s no rush and there’s no timeline. We will not close the Central Post Office at this time,’ Peay said Tuesday.
The worst that could happen, he conjectured, is that the post office might go from its four-hour daily schedule six days a week to only two hours each day. No decision will be made until after the Postal Service starts its new fiscal year in September.
There are no post boxes at Central. No one delivers mail from the Central P.O. The only mail that Iris and her assistant, Melissa Shaffer, 34, of New Amsterdam, sort each day is the mail that customers leave at their office. The post office consists of two rooms: a small foyer with a counter, a space barely big enough to accommodate the table for the cake, cookies and punch for Iris’s farewell party, and a second room that accommodates two desks, a cabinet or two, and a safe.
All of Central’s mail is sorted down the road at Mauckport, a larger post office where Linnea Breeden has been postmaster for 19 years. (Her father and mother, Welton Dean and Katherine Dean, put up the building there and were postmasters at Mauckport before her, from 1956 to 1987. Her grandparents, Cordie and Goldie Dean, built the post office building in Central. Cordie was postmaster in Central before he retired about 1935.)
Iris’s customers leave letters and packages and buy stamps and money orders at Central. Some customers would like to have postal boxes there, but they’re not provided. Iris said she did have some big customers: Longbottom-Hardsaw across the street, Barks Welding down the road on S.R. 135, Snyder Construction to the east on Heth-Washington Road, and photographer John Kintner west toward Valley City.
Melissa is now officer-in-charge.
Iris didn’t like talking about retiring because she considers all of her customers as family. She knows them by name. She knows about their families, their tragedies and their triumphs. ‘It gets to be real personal,’ she said. ‘Their lives are a part of yours. If someone gets sick or dies, it affects you.’
Some days it was real quiet and no one stopped at the post office; other days business never stopped. The Central Post Office was once located down the street in Betty Jenkins’ home, for about 20 years. Three years ago, it was moved to its present location, where Jenkins’ parents once had the post office.
Iris has lots to do. She wants to straighten up her farmhouse a couple of miles west of Central. It’s her parents’ farmhouse, the house she was born in. And she intended to ‘get some pickles down,’ a time-consuming canning process that city folks don’t understand. It all depended on whether she could find the time to get to Corydon to buy some alum. And the Harrison County Fair was coming up, too. She had to work at the Farm Bureau booth, and she wanted to see her grandchildren show their livestock. She planned to take her sister, Irma Radmacher, to get some help with her vision problem. No, she didn’t lack for things to do.
Iris’s family members stopped by the post office on her last day to have some cake and cookies and give her a hug. Debbie Johnson, who lives on Dixie Road, dropped by for some money orders and gave some crescents and bread sticks to Iris. Debbie was on her way to work at the Pillsbury Co. in New Albany. They discussed a herd of buffalo that had gotten loose on Lickford Bridge Road.
That Saturday night, Iris was planning to go out to a steakhouse in Clarksville to celebrate with her family: Joy and Kent Yeager, Barbara and Phillip Crecelius, Karen and Andy Eschbacher and their children.