I have always said how much I enjoyed being raised out on Fruit Ridge Road a location that put me smack dab in the middle of rural. I have also spoke about my connections to what as a youth felt were big cities in Moscow and Felicity. For much of my early years this truly was the center of my universe. From the outside world I got to see the milk man pick up our cans of milk to sell and Harry Hannah deliver gasoline to fill dads gas tanks. From time to time our preacher and his family who lived in the city would come to our house for a Sunday lunch. My biggest exposure was when Tom and Lydia would come to their farm next door to us and bring along my cousin Walt. Walt and I could be compared very much like the country mouse and the city mouse.
In about 1953 we got a new mail carrier. He was to replace the one I had always known and his name was Henry Cushard. He seemed to be a nice man and always waved and smiled at me. What was about to happen changed my complete idea of what the mailman was. You see the first time the new mail carrier arrived at our mail box I was there to greet him. (Seldom did we have new people to meet and I felt it my duty to see who this fella was.) When the car slowed down to the mail box and I could see who it was my jaw hit the ground. He was my uncle Charles Hetterick! He smiled and said hi and I feel I said hi back but I was so taken a back and was loading up on questions to ask him as he pulled away before I could get those questions out.
This was my Aunt Margaret’s husband and the last I had heard they were living in Cincinnati and he was working in the central part of the postal system at the Union Terminal and aunt Margaret was working at the very first UDF store that Carl Linder built. She dipped ice cream and to a boy of four I felt she had the better job. Uncle Charles I learned had to work down there until a carrier route became available. The route just happened to be the one that covered Washington Township and my house. I didn’t know they had moved to Tom Houser’s farm house for a few months as they looked to buy their own home and or a farm. Now not knowing that this had happened upset me as very little got by me without me knowing. The better side was since they were living at the next house up the road from ours I became a daily visitor. (I didn’t want Aunt Margaret to be lonely.)
The mail route Charles took on was one of the longest and roughest routes this area had to offer. Over 88 miles in length and most of the roads were township. Please think back to how those roads were in the 50’s and 60’s. All gravel and very narrow, Seldom had they been ditched out so the waters could drain away. So every time we got hard storms many of these roads would was out and Uncle Charles couldn’t drive them and therefore he would have to back track them. One of his amazing attributes was he would get every person on his route their mail no matter what the conditions and that is saying a lot!
Before he moved up to postmaster in about 1972 or 1973 he had set a standard that many mail carriers would never live up to and today I feel it will be even less. At our house when he pulled up to the mail box we never had to look at a clock as we knew it was 10:30. That is how consistent he was. In those days Washington Township didn’t have a mail car. Uncle Charles supplied his and the postal service probably reimbursed him for mileage. With the terrain and route he had the postal service never lost any money on Uncle Charles. He would go through a car about every 18 months and as his family grew (six children) he began buying station wagons. In those years there had yet been radial tires put on the market yet. So he would chew up a set about every eight thousand miles and needed new brakes sooner than that. On a route he did a lot of stopping and starting up and I must say he would have made a great stock car driver as he never let any grass grow under his tires and he had to be on time and on time was who and what he was all about.
As the years have gone by I have learned that no other person was as well-known as Charles Hetterick. Anybody who used their mail box knew him and respected him as he brought them each mail from the outside world along with a smile and a friendly word. Without him there wouldn’t have been any magazines or catalogs or letters from family to read. Remember in those days this was the fastest way to receive mail. I will say though that Uncle Charles would have never been accused as snail mail. He had a time schedule and he got home I want to say about 2:30 each day and then he would shuttle his children to and from places it seemed on a daily basis.
In those days and I don’t think people are allowed now he would have an automatic transmission and would sit in the middle of the front seat with one hand driving and the other hand placing your mail in the box. Just think about how much was going on at one time when he did that and did it well. I know once his car broke down and he ask to borrow my car. I had an Oldsmobile 442 with a four speed transmission. This made it where he couldn’t drive it like his car. So he got one of his sons (Bob I think) to ride along and put the mail in the box and he drove. I have heard he got done quicker that day as my car was a true muscle car.
Yes at 10: 30 we learned what was happening in the outside world. We even got the evening Cincinnati Times Star and I always felt that if the world came to an end the day before we didn’t know it until 10:30! Uncle Charles I am positive knew the postal carriers’ creed. : neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” It is safe to say he did just that. There were times when I have wondered if maybe he wrote this creed. He did two things. He got you your mail and you got it on the same time every day.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you are interested in reading more of his stories they can be found in his books ‘There are Places to Remember” and’ Memories ARE from the Heart.” He may be reached at email@example.com.