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Judy Somerville shares stories from 31 year USPS career

Judy Somerville has just retired after a great career with the United States Post office. It had some great highs, including a trailblazing accomplishment of being the first female career appointee in the history of the Columbia, KY 42728, post office. There were a lot of challenges, with daily hikes which could tire a Marine in basic training, and there was discouragement from a few male colleagues when she sought advancement. Still, there was plenty of encouragement, too, from great pals such as Kandi Stockton and George Rice. The last 16 years she's made the daily commute from Columbia to Marrowbone, KY 42759. On July 31, 2012, she retired, and with her name written again in USPS history as the last Postmaster for the Post Office
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By Judy Somerville

I Graduated from Campbellsville College with a bachelors in Elementary Education, then worked two years at Union Underwear in Campbellsville and substituted at Campbellsville Elementary School for two years, worked at K-mart for two years as a checkout supervisor.

After having had my fourth child, I interviewed at the Columbia post office and was made the first female career appointee in Columbia, KY, by Postmaster Don Monroe.

For the next eight and a half years I worked as a part time flex; that is, I was one who does what is needed, from working the window, working post office box mail, to helping city carriers get mail ready to go out on the route to actually carrying the city routes on carrier's days off.

The next two and one-half years were spent on City Route 3

The next two and a half years were spent as a fulltime regular carrier on City Route 3, an eleven mile walking route.

Later it was City Route 1 before getting Officer in Charge appointment to Milltown

When George Rice retired I moved to City Route 1 and then later, Postmaster Gary Dennison asked me to be the O.IC. at Milltown Post office until they could get it closed. He predicted about 6-7 weeks.

The Post Office had a few meetings and a crowd of patrons showed up, complained profusely and had a petition. It was left open for two more years after which I was assigned back in the city to do Route 1 again.

Candi Stockton alerted me to Marrowbone Postmaster opening

The vacancy at Marrowbone Post Office came open. I was on vacation at the time and I never would have known about it if co-worker Candi Stockton had not laid it on my case table. I was 49 years old and having trouble climbing the hills in Columbia.

Postmaster appointment came just after Christmas

Right after Christmas I received the letter to say that the manager of Post Office Operations had chosen me as the new Postmaster of the Marrowbone Post Office.

I worked at Marrowbone PO for 15 years, 6 months and 13 days and was told I was the last Postmaster that location will have.

It was such a wonderful place. It was small, slow-paced and laid back. After they realized I had worked for the Postal Service for about 16 years and got to know me, I was no longer a newcomer. I was accepted and cared for as one of their own.

A lesson learned in Marrowbone: We take care of our own

I went to work in Marrowbone on January, 1997 and on Christmas Eve my mother passed away. I started closing up, called my PMR (Postmaster Relief/Replacement) to take over for the next few days and gave the gifts I had for the little ones in the community to my buddy Socks Riddle to deliver for me before going home.

On my return there was a box on my desk with piles of bills that had obviously been donated to me to help with the expenses associated with a funeral, guests visiting and such. There was a little note inside to explain. That afternoon Mrs. Jewell Ballard stopped in and I told her how much I appreciated this act of kindness and generosity. She said, "You are no longer a newcomer, you are now one of us and we take care of our own."

Beverly Harvey is the new Officer in Charge at Marrowbone

Beverly Harvey from Breeding is the O.I.C. (Officer in Charge) now and is a perfect replacement. She is kind, people oriented and very computer savvy with a great knowledge of Post Office procedures. In addition to O.I.C. at Marrowbone, she is the P.M.R. for Breeding Post Office and is available to work at Columbia if needed.

'Judy, Baby, What happened to you?'

One day as I was carrying mail up Jamestown Street in Columbia, I walked across the lot at Giles Car Lot, delivered his mail and proceeded to try to climb the dirt bank behind my next place of delivery.

It had rained earlier in the day but I thought it had dried off enough to climb. I took a run at it but about 2/3 the way up I began to slide back down.

I had mud on my pants, my hands and arms. But it was the last relay for me and I was over half way done. I went around and delivered the mail across the street, up and down the other side.

When I went into Central Realty, Charles Barnes took one look at me and said, "Judy, baby, what happened to you?"

I told him what had happened and went on. I finished the rest of Jamestown Street and walked over to the post office.

I went in, dropped my pouch at the case, grabbed my time card, clocked in and headed to the bathroom to wash up, but something caught my eye as I passed the full-length mirror by the back doors.

I was stunned to see I was covered in mud. I had a black stain on my shirt from rolling newspapers against my side, a black ring around my nose from wiping away sweat with ink-stained fingers and a bright yellow maple stuck to my forehead.

Some of the guys saw me but hadn't let on. I said, "you guys keep asking why I don't date. What do ya think?!"

Canine assistant was good companion; but short on details of fight he had

One day I was carrying the mail and in Old Graded Hill area, there was a dog that would come up behind me, jump up and put his front paws in my mailbag and walk with me until he got tired.

This day he came up to me and began to whine and carry on.

I looked down at him and saw that it looked he'd been in a fight with another dog.

The tip of his tail was all bushy, looking like another dog had bit his tail when he tried to get away, the other dog's teeth just stripped the hide off down to the end.

Every time the wind would blow he'd whine loudly.

My last stop was at a factory in the old school building.

The lady asked if I'd seen the dog that day and I said, "Yes but he's in a bad way and it looks like he's been in a fight."

The owner stepped through the door and asked, "Who was he fighting with?'"

The lady looked at him with a solemn face and said, "He didn't say!" -Judy Somerville

End, 1st installment; next will be posted as written and revised

This story was posted on 2012-09-02 13:18:36
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The Judy Somerville stories

2012-09-02 - Adair County, KY - Photo by Elaine Bennett. One of Kentucky's great story tellers, Judy Somerville has just retired as Postmaster at Marrowbone, KY. Beginning today, she looks back on a career with the United States Postal Service which began May 30, 1981 when she became the first female career appointee at the Columbia office through retirement on Tuesday, July 31, 2012, as the last Postmaster at Marrowbone, KY. Watch for the first installment, later today - CM
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