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Helen Williams: The Valley in need of a voice

If you think the Cane Valley Post Office is just a place to get and send mail, you're mistaken. It's so much more than that. It's a major part of what makes Cane Valley a model American community, where everybody does know your name, where a 10 year old boy doesn't find going to the post office a chore, and gets a thrill out of delivering his paper to Mr. Max. It's living history, as Helen Williams so beautifully writes in this article, hoping that before or after you read it, you'll take one minute to sign the petition to save it - and post offices at Gradyville and Knifley - from the USPS' hit list for closing. -CM
Click to United States Postal Service: Keep Breeding, Cane Valley, Gradyville KY Post Offices OPEN! to sign the petition now.

By Helen Williams

"I'd like to get Mommy's and Uncle Harry's mail, please." my ten year old beams, busting through the storm door of the Cane Valley Post Office.

"Why certainly, Mister Jayden." Miss Wanda answers back, offering him a piece of candy from the basket near the door. He graciously accepts it, and probably slips another piece into his pocket for later.

"Does Mister Max have anything today?" he'll ask before jaunting on his way. Mr. Max Taylor has the tack shop between the Post Office and our home, and Jayden enjoys the chore of delivering to Mr. Max his paper, or whatever may be in his box that day.

This is not just a chore for my ten year old. This is a part of everyday life for us and so many here in Cane Valley, Kentucky. One of my favorite things to do is tell someone that my address is General Delivery. It always sparks a long pause, and then, "What?" As I repeat myself with a smile, I am almost always asked, "But what's the number?" "There is no number. It will just go to our Post Office. Miss Wanda will make sure I get it." I'm sure that my information is entered, still leaving the recipient more than a little confused, and probably thinking that I am the one confused. I don't even know my own P.O. Box number!

There may be downfalls to any place one might choose to call home, and certainly there are inconveniences to living in a town that is accused of "rolling up the sidewalks at 7:00". Though we aren't a booming metropolis, there is a certain novelty to being a part of a community like Cane Valley, such as being able to claim "our" Post Office. No, we don't have a 24 hour gas station - we have to drive a whole seven miles into Columbia - or "town" - for that luxury. We don't have a wide selection of five star restaurants or high end department stores. We leave those extravagances to our neighbors, Lexington, Louisville, and Bowling Green.

But we have something that our more densely occupied metros don't have - Community. Why, do you think for one minute that I would let my ten year old even walk into a Post Office in Louisville by himself? Not likely! But it isn't just the security that we feel, or the homey, welcome feeling that comes from walking into Cane Valley Post Office.

It isn't just the neighbors that gather there to talk about the day, the crops, their own grandkids, or the kids down the street. It isn't just knowing that you can drop that bill into the night slot, and if your account doesn't have enough change to stamp it, (yes we have accounts!) that Miss Wanda will make sure that it gets sent out, and you pay it when you come in. It isn't just that Miss Wanda drops a Christmas card in everyone's box every year. "Love, your Postmaster" - It's more than all these things. Cane Valley Post Office represents our history - the history of Cane Valley, and sadly - very little of it is left.

Jayden came home with some heart saddening news the other day. They're trying to close our Post Office. As we turned down Cane Valley School Road, he told me this news, with a very serious face. "They're not making enough money or something..." he said, as he got out of the car in front of the very subject of our discussion.

The red Jeep wasn't there, meaning that Miss Bea would be greeting him on this day. I watched as moments later he came back out with Miss Bea on his heels, waving intensely at the door, donning her cheerful smile. As he buckled up, he spilled the information that he had just been given. "She doesn't know when, but they are wanting to close our Post Office. Probably be shortly." He recited, almost as if reading the sad news from a newspaper column. My heart sank.

I started researching the Cane Valley Post Office and the history of Cane Valley altogether. I found this:
The Cane Valley Post Office was established on August 6, 1855 with Patrick Henry Bridgewater as the first Postmaster. He held the position for 18 years, 7 months and 14 days. On March 20, 1873 Alfred H. Judd was appointed to the position. Then on August 11, 1876 Ralph T. Dudegon was appointed the position but he resigned a few months later and Samuel G. Banks followed as Postmaster on November 21, 1876.

Banks resigned a few days later and on December 14, 1876 Alfred Judd again became Postmaster. The first woman to hold the position of Postmistress was Mrs. Willia W. Johnson who was appointed on May 15, 1889.

Henry E. Christie then followed on May 26, 1892. Others that have held the position of Postmaster are Jospeh Judd, David H. Beard, Dennis O. Eubank, C. F. Paxton, Lester Dudgeon, Mont Biggs, Mrs. Willie H. Hutchison. Miss Lucille Sparks was appointed acting Postmistress on June 23, 1943 and appointed Postmistress on August 3, 1943. Mrs. Hutchison became Postmistress again, but upon her death, Mrs. Lucille Sparks Rogers was appointed Postmistress.

Today, her daughter, Mrs. Wanda Berry is Postmistress. She was appointed Officer in Charge on February 14, 1987 and appointed Postmistress on August 1, 1987.
Open since 1855!! Closing our Post Office would be like deleting over 150 years of Cane Valley's history! We want to show how strong our community can be - and come together to express our disapproval of this consideration... We are the Voice of The Valley! We, the Community, give life to what otherwise, is just an old building. Let us keep this cornerstone of our community - So many people depend on our Post Office, its loyal Postmistress, Miss Wanda, its familiar feeling of home, the good fellowship that derives from within, and of course, its candy basket...

-Helen Williams
Cane Valley Resident

This story was posted on 2011-07-30 14:10:38
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