Neither snow nor rain...

By Stell Shevis | Mar 03, 2016
Artwork by: Stell Shevis Stell Shevis' depiction of her husband delivering mail in their Jeep.

The Jeep station wagon was given to us by my dad after we moved to Maine — his idea of a more suitable vehicle for the rough country roads we now traveled on.

He so well remembered getting mired in mud on the very first trip when he drove me and the children from Watertown after Shevis had come with the moving van. Well, the Jeep wasn't new but was in excellent condition, had all weather tires and carried chains in a box for emergencies.

Shevis had applied to be a substitute mailman for the times when Bill Clayton, our regular, went on vacation. Our client list had dropped way down after the party line telephone system had turned off so many of our customers (that's another story) so we could use the money. The job paid well. And he certainly knew the route. What he didn't realize was that Bill consulted the Old Farmer's Almanac, and always planned his vacation for the very worst two weeks of winter!

That year it was in mid-February. The first day wasn't too bad, cold, but the roads had been well-plowed. Shevis had to drive about 8 miles to the post office at Lincolnville Beach by 7 a.m. to sort the mail, and collect stamps for people who had ordered them. He stopped at our house, which was just about halfway, and  had coffee and a doughnut and then went on his way.

That night it rained, then turned to sleet. The next morning it was clear, but icy. He put chains on the tires and a bucket of sand in the back of the car and got to the post office to collect the mail. The main road had been sanded, but not the side roads. There was no other traffic, not another car in sight! The Jeep skidded, but three winters in Maine had taught him how to handle a car in most situations. So he kept going, skidding into one mailbox, tipping it over, while smashing a headlight. He saw a man in a window shaking a fist at him.

When he came to a steep, slippery hill which the car refused to negotiate, he took the mail and newspapers and crawled on his hands and knees up the hill to put it in two mailboxes. He crumpled a fender while sliding into a ditch, more than once, but succeeded in delivering all the mail. When he finally got back to the post office, our friend, the postmaster, beamed at him and said, "Congratulations Shevis, you are the only mailman in the whole state who delivered mail today!"

Shevis was furious. He shouted, "You XXKNMSDED XKS, MA2/@#3, you could have phoned, left a message to anyone along the way, telling me to quit!"

"That's it, I resign!" You can call Bill to get on the job again, I QUIT!" and stomped out.

He was absolutely exhausted by the time he got home and told me all about it.

Early the next morning a call came from the post office asking why he wasn't there already. Shevis shouted into the phone that he was not coming in, not now, not EVER again. And he never did!

As I remember, I did put in a claim to collect payment for the damage to the car — and did receive a check.

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