Friday, March 19, 2010

Pioneers, Postal Agents . . .

. . . Gave Names to Our Nation

This yarn will sound familiar to some readers, I know, but others may enjoy it. I wrote this five years ago in my little magazine The Bay Stater.

There are many stories, some true, some fiction, about the origin of the names borne by cities, towns, villages, counties and hamlets throughout the United States.

When the country had its beginnings many names came from the old countries, from the places left by the newcomers to America.

When the Western part of our country was opening up, pioneers, those eager for more new beginnings, traveling from the East, planted their own names, or old country names in the West.

A man named Hobbs, started a post office in the place I now call home, listing his own name as the name of the post office and thus of the town.

Many other pioneers did the same. Some put down names of their sons or daughters as town and post office names.

And then came post office inspectors or agents. They were charged with giving names to settlements not yet named or sometimes changing existing names when they found duplications.

From hearsay I have collected some samples and other names are from my imagination. Here's a few names to ponder over.

Who would ever label a place in western Texas "Rattlesnke Knob?" Most likely someone who lived there. That place still exists. There's a gas station there. It's just outside of Hobbs.

The postal inspector stopped in one place and found a settler who said the place was just there, no name. He asked the settler to suggest a name and the man thought about it, finally saying - well, man, and the inspector says that's a good one, Wellman, Texas, it is.

The next place he visited had a number of buildings where workers were busy weaving ropes. That's how Ropesville, Texas, got its post office identification.

Just down the road apiece the agent found a few houses, no name signs, but a lot of cows grazing in a meadow and Meadow, Texas, was born that day wihout asking anybody.

You can figure out the clues that helped to name Needmore, Halfway. and Happy.

One very hot day along the Texas and New Mexico border he found a shade tree and an unnamed post office which promptly became, Shadetree, Texas. The tree is gone now, the post office and the town, too.

While he was there he fathomed up a brilliant idea to save himself a lot of time and travel. Using the rough map he had that designated places without names, he saw a number of schoolgirls and asked their names.

Thus came these Texas town names, Alma, Alice, Gail, Patricia, Vera and Lolita.

And when he got into New Mexico, he met a little girl and asked her for drink of water. She got it from the pump near her house and gave it to him. When he smiled and thanked her, she said "you nice," and that's how Eunice came to be just south of Hobbs.

Now, I can't take the credit for these two places even though we've been in both spots - Bernice, Louisiana, and Charlie, Texas. The first has a museum in the abandoned railroad station. The one in Texas is a cemetery.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Scary Story . . .

. . . On A Stormy Day

The heavy snow had ceased and turned to rain and then it cleared a bit but left the road wet.

Halfway from Seminole to Hobbs the fast lane of a four-lane divided highway was drier than the inside lane and 60 miles an hour was safely achievable.

Then the inside lane appeared dry so Lady B eased the air force blue Toyota Matrix into that lane. Just in time was that maneuver.

Suddenly a blurring white moving object came into view. A white pickup truck was rolling over and over from the eastbound lane through the median directly into the westbound lane.

In a flash it was laying on its side, partially into the fast lane and about 60 feet from the Toyota which a very alert Lady B had halted swiftly. A bloody head could be seen in a window frame.

Trusty cell phone in hand and already pushing the 911 button I alighted and ran to the rolled-over vehicle meanwhile talking to the Seminole dispatcher, asking for police and an ambulance.

Lady B. eased her car to a safe place at roadside and waited inside.
Another driver had hoped from his eastbound pickup and also had called for an ambulance.

I reached the young man at the window of the wreck who was desperately trying to climb out and told him to stay and wait for the medics who already were en route. Stephen had a serious looking gash on his head, said he was allright "but get an ambulance for my dad."

His dad was not visible to me but minutes later a strong-looking fellow with an oilfield company hat, crawled into a small opening at the truck's rear and found the father who said his shoulder was broken, and gently removed him to the median.

The younger man found his way out through a hole in the side of truck and crawled into view, streaming precious blood just as the Seminole ambulance pulled up.

Being first on the scene, I could only tell a sheriff's deputy of seeing the truck rolling but not how the accident came about.

After giving that meager information, I went to the Toyota and found Lady B. praying for the two men who appeared badly hurt.

We left, thanking God we had not been in that fast lane, were not traveling too fast although the speed limit is 70, and we were not in the blinding snowstorm we had experienced early on our trip.

But that was not all. Just a few miles further toward Hobbs and we came upon another rollover accident, an eighteen-wheeler layng on its side also partly into the fast lane. Sheriff's deputies were already there. We were guided through wreckage slowly and continued on our way.

That was on Monday after a visit to my eye doctor and on the first day of our intended trip to Fort Worth. It had been raining heavily all night in Lubbock where we had spent the night in a motel.

When we left the doctor's office about 12:30 Texas time, it was snowing.
We had a bad feeling about a trip to Fort Worth. We left and traveled through a few streets which were flooded a foot deep.

The more we traveled the deeper the water seemed. We stopped to fill the gas tank and talked to a convenience store operator who advised the storm was worse in the Fort Worth direction.

Reluctantly we aborted the trip and headed home, running into a blizzard en route, then heavy rain again, eventually a bit of clearing and then those accidents.

Yes, a scary day. At our ages we felt our intuition was the best to follow, not wanting to be victims of any storm-caused accidents as we later saw en route home.

And here's a little hint you may not already know about. In that blizzard we remembered someone had once suggested that in heavy rain, if you put on your sunglasses, you can see through the storm much better.

We'd not had the occasion to try that hint before but now we highly recommend it to you readers. It really works when the snow is coming directly at you!

And about cell phones - they are mighty handy when you need to get help for someone in a hurry. This was the first time I had used one in an accident scenario. Be sure they are charged.

- 30 -

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tips for the USPS . . .

. . . On Money Saving, Health

Dear Mr. Postmaster General:

I thought you might like to hear from a poor guy who's getting poorer all the time, with a few suggestions your outfit might embrace as a means of starting a government-wide saving program.

Being a guy up in the Medicare bracket and in a state where I'm aching and paining a lot, having trouble walking and so on, I do have a few ideas
to save a few bucks.

I realize what I have to say will mean only a drop in the bucket, but listen anyway, please.


A few years back your predecessor, think faster service in mail delivery, covinced everyone that using trucks or jeeps on mail routes would get carriers faster to destinations.

I don't think this has worked. Nowadays, trucks and jeeps cost a lot more money than they once did and that's costing taxpayers a lot of moola.

And that's not to mention the price of gasoline these days. I have seen mail carriers going from house to house, getting out of the trucks at each house, leaving the engine runnning, and then going only a few yeards to the next; stop and doing the same thing.


The truck method of delivering mail doesn't do much for the health of carriers either. Many of the carriers I have seen on my route are obese - fat- if you don't know the meaning of obese. In some cases the extra weight may not be the fault of using a truck instead of walking but instead a medical reason, so I don't paint all carriers with the same brush!

However, I feel that walking along the sidewalks and up homes would be a great benefit to carriers. Exercise would keep them in tip top shape and healthy. If they walked their routes they would make friends with the people they serve, even get cake or cookies along the route, a cup of coffee in the winter or soda in the summer and would know who gets what mail.


No mail carrier in a truck is immune from accidents and injury. Granted, they are trained drivers before being allowed to ride a mail truck, but it is the other driver that might hurt one of your employees.

Mail trucks are bulky boxes and hard for other drivers to see around or beyond, sometimes causing the other drivers to take chances that could hurt someone as they try to get ahead of a mail truck, or around a parked USPS truck.


Those trucks have to be maintained continually to keep them operating properly and efficiently, and don't forget the maintenance costs for labor and parts. If trucks were to be eliminated there would then be a big savings in maintenance as well.

I suppose I could go on ranting about costs and methods of saving, but I guess my one voice wouldn't carry any weight, so I may as well quit now.

Thanks for reading this far. Maybe I've lit a little fire and maybe you might agree with me. If so, pass it all along and let's start saving the taxpayers some money, put the carriers on the streets to walk and make them healthier, thus saving them money by not having to see doctors and take expensive medicine. Medicine - that's for another blog coming soon!


Cut out the WalMart type of selling in your postoffices, too. That costs money also, for merchandise, sales labor, equipment, signs, and so on.

Maybe some of my saving ideas would help bring down the cost of postage stamps, too, and then people might take up the use of pen and paper again and write more letters to their friends and relatives, who aren't hearing from them often enough these days. That would make you more money, while you save .

- 30 -

Snow Time in Hobbs . . .

... and it must be cleared away.

If you want your mail delivered, says the mail carrier, you've got to clear the walks - that's the rule!

Eight times it has snowed in Hobbs. Unusual for a place that seldom gets snow. This last storm left us five inches of the white stuff - the next storm might be more.

Earlier the skies dropped two inches, then three, then four, now five; that's why I say maybe more next time. But when the mailman passed by the house without bringing in the usual bills, I wondered why no mail?

"Well, you haven't cleared your sidewalk and the walk to your house" said the guy! Apparently when the snow got to five inches, it was too much for him, even though he had been able to maneuver to the house the first four storms without the walk being cleared. No boots maybe?

So with the ultimatum "shovel or else" I resurrected from my "saving stuff" my trusty [probably] 35-year-old hand-powered yellow sidewalk snowplow and cleared all the walks and my driveway to boot.

Next day all the snow was gone, the result of God's brilliant sunshiny warm day. The mailman never did see me plowing snow . . .

But there were a number of drive-by honks from folks who either slowed way down or stopped when they saw this old guy clearing snow a mile a minute as if he was used to doing it.

As a matter of fact, the old guy, me, was/is used to it. In a previous blog I think I explained that old yellow plow had seen its days, in Levittown, Pennsylvania and North Adams, Masachusetts, in deep snow and in Truth or Consequences down here in New Mexico in sand!

That old yellow plow without a battery and now with two bald tires and a rusty chain hoist [to lift the blade when backing up] cost me the astounding sum of $14 in the early '60s [for you younger blog readers that means 1960].

Sometime after I hit 100, somebody might want to buy it as an antique if it is still around. One of the kids might have appropriated it however for continued snowplowing by then if this pattern of snow continues so far down into this warm, sunny area.

There's a picture of the plow and me up top there. Don't credit me for putting it there. A geek from California, son DP, an expert at computers, dropped it in there and hopefully I will remember how he did it for a future blog.

-30 -