Arley Journot retired from the Parsons Post Office nearly 27 years ago, but he’s maintained his membership in the National Association of Letter Carriers.
On Tuesday, Journot received his 55-year NALC membership pin in a brief ceremony and breakfast at the post office at 1700 Main.
Journot began working for the Postal Service in July 1958 when the service moved a letter from one coast to the other in 24 hours by train and bus.
One of Journot’s first postal jobs was working on a Railway Post Office train. He then worked at the Wichita terminal before getting a job at the Parsons Post Office in 1960, spending the next 32 years delivering mail. He retired Sept. 30, 1992.
Journot’s Postal Service career started in a three-week school. On the third day, the instructor asked Journot and another Parsons man to step out of the class. Journot thought he was done for, but a supervisor asked the two to get on the road right away. Supervisors on the trains would provide on-the-job training.
Trains traveled from stop to stop picking up and dropping off mail bags that were sorted en route in cramped cars that ranged in length from 40 to 80 feet.
Journot sorted mail on RPO trains. Buses were also used by the service to transport and sort mail from one town to the next. Buses moved from Coffeyville to Wichita and Wichita to Sabetha, he said.
He said he worked by himself sometimes or with six or seven others at times.
“You’d be surprised how we moved the mail. We could get a letter from one end of the country to the next in one day,” Journot said.
“We had to. We had to memorize an awful lot of stuff. There were connections from one train to another train to get that mail home in one day,” he said.
If a letter started in Texas and was en route to Minneapolis, Minnesota, he had to know how to get it there from connection to connection. Connections changed as roads or tracks changed, so Journot said he had to keep up to date.
“A lot to memorize. And I don’t know what happened. I can’t remember anything anymore,” Journot said.
Once Journot started a family, his boss in Wichita offered a position at the Wichita terminal. He would do the same work, but he wouldn’t be traveling by rail and could be home more. He said that worked out well for him. He returned to Parsons in 1960 and became a letter carrier.
At the time, Parsons had 11 1/2 routes that letter carriers walked. Carriers had to walk to their routes, complete their rounds and return to the post office. The post office had its main facility at 1700 Main and its sub station at 2130 Main in the 1960s.
Journot said he enjoyed being a letter carrier. He walked several routes over the years.
“I didn’t mind it,” he said, adding it was a good career.
Journot likes to tell stories of his time with the Postal Service, stories he’s shared with co-workers and others over the years.
One story relates to him misplacing $500,000, back when he had just started working on a sort train. There were two bags destined for Pueblo, Colorado, that were hand-to-hand registers. He didn’t know what that was, but Journot remembered where the bags were delivered. The next day he heard that workers tracked down the bags, which each contained $250,000 cash for Pueblo banks, and took them to their destination.
Postal trains carried money in those days and postal workers, Journot included, carried badges and guns. He said he never had to pull the gun during working hours.
Near the tracks at stations, workers placed mail bags on catcher arms. Clerks on the moving trains “caught” the bags from the arms and also kick out mailbags for that stop.
He remembers having a heavy foot one day and kicking the mail bag through the windshield of a pickup parked near the drop site. His foreman seemed pleased as Postal Service employees tried to encourage the truck’s owner to move the vehicle because of its proximity to the drop.
“I bet it’s not there next time,” Journot quoted his supervisor.
“We had a lot of fun times,” Journot said.