John Rodewald

For two cents first class
he delivered mail through snow and rain,
heat and gloom of night,
thirty-five years
beginning in 1907.
"My father was a post office on a sled
for everyone on the farms south of town."
Leonard Rodewald recalled.
"He toted packages.
Sold stamps.
Insured your mail.
Registered your letters. Everything."
It was a family operation.
"In winter, mother got up
at four o'clock to let
my father sleep.
By the time he was back from the post office
with the mail, she'd have fed the horses.
Then she'd feed my Dad,
and he'd be out
bundled in his bulky sheepskin coat,
felt boots,
and plush-lined pants laced up to the waist."
His mustache had tenure. But his beard's appearance
was seasonal, armor against the cold.
"When he got home in winter,
his face was nothing but icicles."
In summer he was post office in horse and buggy
on the thirty mile route.
By 1911, he'd saved $490
for a "good weather" Model T.
He "flew through the air at fifteen miles an hour,
gas lights on the car,
tool box on the side,
and a lot of flat tires."
William Becker was rural carrier
on the twenty mile route north of town.
Salaries for both were small.
Job satisfaction was big.
Gertrude Pfingston

From her bedroom perch
at Campbell and Dunton
over her father's shoe store,
she oversaw the inebriated
staggering from saloons on Saturday nights.
Some singing.
"I still remember all the village drunks.
How their families suffered because they
drank up all the money! There was one family
on Dunton, the mother worked so hard,
always pregnant as soon as possible,
father always drunk, and his brother, too.
Women had to put up with it.
"After volunteer firemen doused a blaze,
they'd all retire to Cosman's saloon.
Drinks must have been free.
My father always came home tippled,
and mother would be so mad.
It was considered macho in those days.
"Evening before Prohibition started,
all the men came uptown and got drunk.
"Night after Prohibition started,
the same drunks rolled out of the same taverns
(only now they were speakeasies,
one right here on Dunton)
like nickels out of slot machines.
"Prohibition was a bad thing. It started
all those roadhouses with gangsters supplying liquor.
I wanted to dance, but my mother wouldn't let me go.
A friend of mine down the street--
she was a nice girl, too--
got in with those Melrose Park gamblers.
"She was their moll."