Remembering the Old Star Junction Post Office

by David Illig
Photo by Johnny Haut

Are you old enough to remember the old Star Junction Post Office? I remember it, but I must have romanticized it, because I don’t remember it being as shabby and run down as it appears here. Still, as a child I loved to go there. One of the things I remember about it is the smell. It smelled like old, dry paper. I remember Anna Smith, our Postmistress (as she was called). And I remember how she had to tend an old potbelly coal stove to keep the building warm in the winter. Still, it was a drafty place (see the tape over the broken front window?) and she had to wear a sweater. I remember mud on the concrete floor, because the street was not paved, but then not many Star Junction streets were paved in those days. (Do you remember the “red dog” streets?) Another thing I remember about the Post Office is how faithfully Mrs. Smith hung up the FBI Wanted Posters. I loved to read those posters; in fact, I didn’t just read them, I studied them and I was constantly on the lookout for those bad men in Star Junction. Sometimes Mrs. Smith would let me take a Wanted Poster home with me. There I would study it further, and imagine myself confronting the criminal whose mean face was on the poster. None of them ever came to Star Junction, as far as I know.

Elmer Matto adds the following concerning my remarks on the the Post Office: “The coal company did a decent job of maintaining their property while it owned the town. It’s my opinion that the building went to pot after the town was sold to the real estate company. Incidentally, the building had a porch and porch roof that extended the length of the building.”

Elmer Matto on Red Dog: “Red dog - Yes, I know red dog. I had the pleasure of picking coal on the slate dump at Red Lion. Also, the original pavement of the driveway at our first house here in Whitehall was red dog. Incidentally, the pavement of choice in Star Junction in the years preceding WW II was coke cinders, more popularly known as coke ashes. The reason for this was the plentiful supply from the beehive oven days and the road crew consisted of Mike Torkish, his wagon, and a team of work horses. During the war years the cinder piles were screened to reclaim all the usable pieces of coke, leaving only the “fines.” The only use of the fines was as anti-skid material in the winter months.”

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