The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., July 2, 1903,page 4


     Hood River, June 30, 1903. - Editor Glacier: This rapid distribution of mail in the rural districts is one of the greatest innovations of our time. In its conception it was to peculiarly benefit the large masses of people outside the cities and daily bring to them the current events, and keep them in close touch with all the interests that are mutual to an enlightened people.
     While the system was largely an experiment in the beginning, the results were so beneficial that an intense desire was created to have it extended to all compact neighborhoods, and to this end the appeals were made to bring this service to our doors. That, from a financial standpoint, the system has been extended at a loss, is evidenced by the increasingly large appropriations by congress to annually meet the deficit. It is impossible to please all minds in the operation or details of the service. There are defects, as a matter of course, incident to its development and the peculiar condition of districts. But it has passed the experimental stage, and we should be hopeful of a still greater success.
     Hood River came in early in receiving the benefits that our famous Uncle Sam was pleased to bestow upon us, and we have been blessed richly in the service. To part with it now would cause a mighty cry of opposition, and while we have been made to realize that serious difficulties have arisen, because of the meager salary heretofore affixed by the government for carriers, yet this should be no cause for discouragement, because the government has already twice advanced the pay from $400 to $600 per year, and the writer has faith to believe that the emergency will soon be met again, making the same a just amount for well rendered service. As it now is, the proposition of the carrier goes begging, and the vacancy will not be filled till something is done to make the pay a sufficient inducement for young, energetic men to stay with it. Had it not been for the help of our postmaster at Hood River, to keep the service afloat, we should have had to face the crisis some time ago. The post office work is for the most part a thank less one. There are those ready to kick at the least mistake or delay. The handling of thousands of pieces of mail daily, the multitude of boxes in which this must be placed, the numerous questions asked that demand attention, all these tax the mind, body and patience till the wonder is that there is so few mistakes. The heat and dust of summer, the rough roads, the rain, snow and mud of winter, six days in the week and the year through, this is no "soft snap" for any one, nor is anyone to be found who will do this work for his health. And the pay -- well, it is just about half pay, and you and I would figure it so if we had the "drill" ourselves.
     All praise to the men who have thus far sacrificed, and while we can not substantially sympathize with past carriers because of our well-drained purses, yet we can provide for the present, till the government can come to our aid. We want men to stay with the service and be our servants, but not our slaves. While we appreciate a daily mail, there are few of us who recognize all there is in this matter, nor can we do so unless we take the job ourselves.
     Some would kick their Uncle S. because he does not make ample provision at once to make all expenses incident to locality and extended service. Such should consider that it takes time and much study of conditions and actual trial to obtain a definite data for a proper basis to regulate the whole system. Under the present arrangement city carriers get $600 per annum and a monthly allowance extra for horse hire, where such is required. Thus I am told amounts to something over $200 per year. Some such arrangement will doubtless be brought about in the near future to assist rural carriers by making the provision ample for varying conditions. Horse flesh is high, and a few months or a year at most of steady drag knocks out the animal for such work or much else, and there are no green pastures ready to recuperate the poor beast, and so the carrier must lose from start to finish. From two to four are needed for the varying conditions of roads, vehicle and size of animals for a year's run. Constant and careful shoeing is necessary; and this alone is quite an item. And then the feed -- well, you horse owners that have to buy everything, I will leave you to figure the bill that you would have to settle at the end of the year for such animals to be mercifully fed. Then the vehicles. Well, the carrier should be well equipped for his own comfort. He has no time to use a "lazy back," but a 25-mile ride every day is not restful to most anatomies, especially over the hills and rocks of this section. And then he must be protected from the weather to maintain average health, and also to protect the valuable matter that we like to have fresh and clean. This is an item equal to half of the horse proposition, and like a horse, will wear out and need repairs. It looks as if a round thousand were scarcely sufficient to induce a proper person to engage in the service. And if he have a family -- well, Uncle Sam doesn't consider such things, but in the writer's judgment, the above sum would leave very small margins for more than the necessities of life.
     We have been grateful for the offered services of a carrier in our extremity at an extra $200. We have done well to raise this sum, but he has to buy everything to begin with. Figure this out of the pay, then deduct the expenses of the year. The balance looks pretty small, doesn't it, to live on?
     Well, let's do a little better and start our men right. We are trying to purchase the wagon that is so much dead property on the hands of a former carrier - who cannot afford to make us a present of it -- and turn it over to our coming servant. I know what we don't like to "dig up" this way, but the writer is confident that we shall not feel the loss at the end of the year. So if you have not subscribed to this end, step into the bank; the accommodating cashier will examine your conscience in the matter, if you haven't, and will give you due credit for your deposit. We ask Uncle Sam to do this next time.

C.A. WYMAN, Route No. 1

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer