Grouse Creek/Lucin/Etna Mail Service
The first thing I remember about the mail service in Grouse Creek was when it was run by Uncle Milas Wakefield. It was a one room mail room about 8 feet by 8 feet. It was part of the store which Uncle Mide owned and operated.
I remember going up for the mail sometimes after dark, depending on when the mailman arrived, who was George Ballingham at that time of my life. Sometimes he would go on to Montello after delivering the mail to Lucinand would visit longer than planned which made the mail quite late. George was always a jovial fun person and you could hear him talking and laughing while waiting for the mail to be sorted. I remember Uncle Midesorting the mail by kerosene lamp light and all of us standing in the little entrance way with our flashlights, waiting for the mail to be put in the boxes. The boxes consisted of little cubby holes about five inches wide and 9 inches long. Some of them had doors with combination locks and those who had boxes that didn’t have combination locks had to wait for the Postmaster to hand the mail out through a little window that had bars on it. It was really quite a jovial time being there with most of the neighbors and friends waiting and laughing and talking.
The store was sold and a co-op store was made there and then Uncle Mide retired and Oren took the job as Postmaster. He didn’t stay very long as World War II was started and he needed to stay on the farm full time so he wouldn’t be drafted. That way he was exempt from the draft. My mother, Olive Kimber then became Postmaster. I spent a lot of time at the Post Office, waiting for the mailman to pick up the mail and take it Lucin. I darned a lot of socks while waiting. I also enjoyed it because I was there when anyone came to the Post Office and always looked forward to seeing everyone.
In time mom bought the back part of a house and moved it down to a place across the lane from our house. This then became the Post Office. I was certified to help Mom in the Post Office and I got quite adept at taking care of it myself. When I moved to Ogden I’m sure the reason I got a job at Defense Depot Ogden was because I had experience working in the Post Office. We did not have electricity in Grouse Creek so every morning the stove had to be lit to take the cold out of the room and if light was needed it was by a kerosene lamp. That made things kind of eerie, I thought.
I remember as kids we used to stand around and watch people open their mail boxes. We had pretty well memorized all of the combinations at one time. We never did get into their mail but it was exciting to see if we could get them opened.
After George Ballingham the next mail carrier was David Paskett, if I remember right. He was very efficient and picked the mail up on time and took it to Lucin to be sent on the railroad and then picked the mail up fromLucin and brought it to Grouse Creek, via Etna. He developed arthritis in his arms and could hardly move them but he still hoisted the bags of mail into the car, regardless of pain.
At one time Etna had a Post Office that was housed in the big rock house that Warburton’s owned. They used their kitchen window to hand the mail out as people would drive up. Quite interesting. Florence Warburton was the Postmaster at the place. After the Post Office was closed the mailman used to drive through Etna and deliver the mail to mail boxes by the side of the road, which is still done that way now unless patrons want to rent a Post Office box in Grouse Creek to get their mail.
Mother retired from the Post Office and Rhea Toyn was appointed to the job. She rented the building from mom and retired from there. Gwen McWilliams then assumed the job and later it was made a bid job. Patty Kimber bid on it and got it. She is still the Postmaster in Grouse Creek as of 2010. She has moved a building onto a difference spot further south and as of now it is pretty well a meeting place for a lot of the patrons in Grouse Creek. It is a nice modern building with more space and much better for her.
Randy Kimber was the next mail carrier. Shortly after that they changed the system. The trains would no longer drop the mail at Lucin, as it had been abandoned and no one lived there anymore.
Randy would go to the crossroads at the turn up into Grouse Creek from the highway and meet the mail man from Tremonton to get the mail. After him they changed it so the mailman came from Tremonton, brought and picked up mail at Snowville and brought mail to Grouse Creek, making the round trip every day, which is the case now. Dee Hirschi was the mail carrier at that time and he faithfully made the trip from Tremonton to Grouse Creek come rain or shine. Dee had contracted polio in his younger years and had a hard time climbing up the step to the Post Office without a hand rail, which was provided for him. After his death his children became the mail carriers and they still make the round trip every day.
Note: Sometimes the mail car was the only way for some people to get to Lucin to ride the train into Ogden. A lot of times when we were going to high school in Brigham City, Utah we would catch the train at Ogden and ride to Lucin, where we would ride to Grouse Creek with the mailman.
It was very convenient and they were always willing to let us ride with them.
One time when we were in high school some of us decided it would be good time to go to Grouse Creek because it was a holiday. There was Dorothy Warburton, Dwight Warburton and his friend, Lela Kimber and Delma Kimber. We caught the train in Ogden, after riding the bus from Brigham City and after making a nervous wreck out of Dwight and his friend because we girls had to do some primping in the rest room and the train was called and they didn’t think we had heard it.
We did arrive at Lucin but lo and behold the mail did not run on holidays and so there we were stuck in the train depot with no transportation. The only communication that was possible was for Mrs. Vincente, who ran the Post Office in Lucin, to call Grouse Creek for us.
The only phone in the valley at that time was a phone in the Grouse Creek Co-op. Just by luck my Dad, Winfred Kimber went up to the store to see if there was any messages. He called Mrs. Vincente and she notified him that there were some kids that would be happy to have a ride to Grouse Creek. He arrived to pick us up about 10:30 P.M. and was we happy to see him. We thought we would have to sleep in the little one-room depot for I don’t know how long because it was a Saturday and the mailman didn’t come until Monday, which was the day we had to be going back to Brigham City.
The mail train that went through Lucin was quite interesting. They would slow the train down and throw off the bags of mail. Sometimes they would hand it on a hook by the side of the tracks as the train went by. They had to be quite adept at that.
We depended on the mail for any communication outside of Grouse Creek. There were some in the town that milked a few cows and would separate the cream from the milk and put the cream in a five gallon milk can and send it to Ogden. That was income for some of the ladies.
When I was dating Verl we relied on the mail to communicate with each other. Also when I was going to high school that is how I communicated with my folks. The mail would almost always be delivered the day after it was sent. All correspondence was done through the mail service. We even depended upon the mail service for our shopping. All the main catalogues were sent to us and we would pour over them and decide what we could afford to buy for Christmas and other occasions. It was really a wish book and so fun to have new catalogues come. One time during the World War II we ordered our Christmas from the catalogue and when we got the merchandise only about half of it was there. Because of the war they had ran out of some of the articles so Mom hired George Ballingham to take us to Burley Idaho to do the rest of our shopping. When I and the children used to stay at Grouse Creek all summer we would order our school clothes through the catalogue and had the order sent to Ogden. When we got home the weekend before school started we had all these packages to open and a lot of clothes to try on. What we didn’t want to keep we would send back. That was always an exciting night.
After Verl and I were married we were visiting at our parent’s home. Verl was fixing up a travel trailer that Mom and Dad had purchased. He ran the electric cord through the Post Office window, crossing over some boxes of rug rags that Mom had stored in the back room. The cord overheated and set the boxes on fire. Some kids passing by came in the house and told us the Post Office was on fire.
Verl headed for the Post Office and I and someone else, I don’t recall who ran for the hose. As fast as we could drag one part of the hose toward the office we had it connected and over to the Post Office before Verl could hardly turn around. Mom was taking the important things plus the mail out as fast as she could. What a mess. We helped as long as we could, then we were off to Ogden, leaving Mom the task of cleaning up the disaster. Luckily no mail was lost. What a day.
Contributed by Delma Kimber Smith.