Every town in the United States has a
post office and a postmaster or postmistress, but only Auburn
had an “Uncle Harry” Woodward as postmaster.
He was the BIGGEST man in town
physically, and being postmaster was about the BIGGEST
politically. In those days, every family appointed their own
mail carrier. It was the duty of this mail carrier to go to
the post office; usually reaching there about the time the
mail in the bag was brought from the train. These mail
carriers would assemble about twice daily and each time would
have to wait until “Uncle Harry” opened the window, which was
closed while the mail was “put up” as Uncle Harry called it.
When he opened the window and called “all up,” the line formed
and unless you were financially able to rent a box, you would
pass by the open window. Uncle Harry would look over his
specs, see who was there and hand out the mail if any for your
family. It was customary in our home to care for some of the
out-of-town students at the college. Sometimes one of these
boarders would be appointed mailman.
One day the mailman came back and upon
reaching our home he realized he had lost a possible card
addressed to my father. With becoming embarrassment, he told
my father of the loss and added, “but I can tell you what was
on it.” Guess curiosity caused Uncle Harry also to read postal
cards when he had a little spare time.
He had a very large home and ran a
sort of hotel. It was half a block from the mill and across
Main Street from Stagner’s Shop. The post office was in a
front room of this residence. I recall when Yellow Fever rages
in Memphis and refugees left there by the hundreds and
thousands. Many stopped in Auburn and Uncle Harry had his
place filled to overflowing, as did every home in town where
there was a spare room. The hotel was full, of course. Some
may have come from New Orleans also, as it was raging there at
the same time. It is wonderful that Yellow Fever has now been
stamped out in the United States.