The Appalachian Trail

The Postmark Adventures of Kelvin Kindahl, Part 7

May 2 -- Quinque, which must be one of the few post offices with two "Q's", shares a building with a funeral home. Ripe for bad jokes about the dead letter office. Woodberry Forest CPO Orange is at a private high school.

May 3 -- Washington, Va., claims to be the first town to be named after George Washington.

The first place I went to this morning was Huntley, but its post office closed five years ago. Several days later, I realized that the town before Huntley, Chester Gap, also had a post office, but I didn't have it marked on my map. Turns out Chester Gap closed last fall, but I didn't know that.

May 6 -- East of "The Ridge." Some of the small rivers in this area had serious flooding in June 1995. The Syria post office had no sign on the building, since the sign had been destroyed by the flood. Also, it had no flag as their flagpole broke in the strong winds just this spring.

The tiny Graves Mill post office was swept away by the June 1995 flood, which destroyed several other small farm buildings, as well as some houses. Graves Mill was without a post office for about six months, which USPS tried to officially discontinue, and the lady postmaster tried to keep it.

She was successful only because a free space was offered by the only other public building in the tiny town, the church. The Graves Mill post office is now in a room in the basement of the church. The U.S. Constitution would not allow for church services in a post office, but postal service in a church is acceptable, even if a bit unusual. The entire post office is set up on a table. There is no counter. The postmaster expects to retire in a couple of years and expects Graves Mill to be closed after that.

The Leon post office is currently operating out of the Brightwood post office. Unfortunately, I had already left Brightwood before I learned that, so I didn't get all the details of how it works. It was afternoon and the Leon postmaster had gone home for the day at noon. Presumably the Leon postmark was locked up for the day. Besides, if I'd gone back to Brightwood, could I call that visiting the Leon post office? I've never been to a post office temporarily operating out of another office's building. Permanently, yes, but not temporarily.

May 7 -- I had Tom's Brook, Va., marked as having become a contract branch of another unspecified town. Turns out what really happened was that a presumably unnamed, no-postmark contract station of Tom's Brook had opened, but it has since closed. It was located at a truck stop along I-81.

High View, W.Va., is just barely in West Virginia. The state line wiggles along the road on which the post office sits on the west side. A few hundred feet to the north of the post office, the road bends to the east and goes into Virginia.

May 10 -- Ann crossed the Mason-Dixon line today. Finished what I will do in both West Virginia and Maryland and began a new state, Pennsylvania.

Fahrney Keedy Memorial Home, CPO of Boonsboro, is at a retirement home run by the Church of the Brethren, a church which is all over northwestern West Virginia, and also in Maryland and Pennsylvania, but which I've never seen anywhere else.

The CPO clerk opened the door and asked me to come in and sit down while he did my postmarks. This was only the second time in all my post office visiting that I can recall being invited behind the counter. The man at Fahrney Keedy also said I was the first collector he had ever had show up in person, and he's been there 16 years. I'm suspecting he either doesn't remember ... or John Gallagher went there while he was closed for lunch.

May 14 -- At Zollinger, the postmaster let me do my own postmarks, as sometimes happens. Then I mailed a package of cards and notes to Vick Steward and I cancelled the stamps myself. First time I've ever cancelled an actual piece of mail. Unfortunately, I hadn't left a lot of room to put a good clear postmark anywhere on the envelope.

In Upper Strasburg I found a brand new post office building, so new that it wasn't open for business yet, but I couldn't find the present location. Turns out that is because there is no current location. Upper Strasburg has been without a post office for several years, since USPS lost its lease on the former location and was unable to find a new suitable building. The town is big enough that USPS doesn't want to leave, and they've had a new building built.