I spent almost 50 years on the job at
the Newark Post Office, until 1989. All memories seem to start and
end with a PO related anecdote.
In 1939/40, about 1500 Newark "kids" descended on the
huge 50 Church Street Federal Building in New York City to take
a Post Office exam. Exams were for "letter carrier" and/or
clerk. Job assignments were for the Main Office or any of the 15
First year or so was what "On The Waterfront" called
a "shape up". Assignments as a "sub" were to
replace "regulars" on their day off. First call, 6AM,
if no work, report back at 12 Noon. If no work, we might be given
an evening "motor [mailbox] collection" for three or four
hours, weekdays or weekends. ONLY three or four hours pay (.65 cents/hr)
for the "collection ", having been "on call "
from 6 AM until 10 PM. At some point, this system was abandoned
and we were GUARANTEED two hours "paid work" each time
we "shaped up".
Later, when the DEFENSE INDUSTRY started up, many young people
that were still home, abandoned the Post Office for a more lucrative
career in the many, many "defense plants" all over Jersey
. The pay was way up to $1.00 (one dollar) per hour, and plenty
of work, until the military service called.
During the war years, the Prudential Insurance Company in Newark,
had the monumental task of preparing , monthly, millions of DEPENDENCY
CHECKS. These were sent through the Newark Post Office, to families
of service people, needing assistance. This was done without the
sophisticated machinery of today.
On a lighter note, the trucks that we drove for collections, I
believe, may have been 1929 Fords (?). I remember they had to be
CRANKED at the garage, by a mechanic (the driver "set"
the "spark and the ignition"). We were warned, DO NOT
SHUT OFF THE MOTOR! or "We will have to come out to crank it
again to start it!
One other point, If there is anyone out there that may help me
recall, I have a question. I know that in rain, we worked the wiper
with one hand on the wheel and the other on the inside wiper handle.
I do not recall heat or defrost. Question: How did we manage when
it snowed or ice formed on the windshield??? We did collect the
Those were the days, my friend, YOUTH !