Jim Woster

Jim Woster

For about two months prior to the general election, there were more than a few news stories regarding the mail service, how deficient it was and how it would affect the election. I never totally understood the political implications nor do I know much about the delivery of mail in Newark, New Jersey or Austin, Texas. What I do know is that the folks who put the various items in our box are pretty darn good at what they do. I also know they frequently walk on sidewalks and in weather that pose various degrees of challenge, in some cases situations that are downright dangerous.

A great example would be the powerhouse ice storm, which hit our city about six years ago. For a couple of weeks, most everywhere they walked was covered with ice and downed trees. Most of the front steps were the same. And yet by mid-afternoon on the second day the mail was reaching all of the homes in our city. Amazing!

As an aside, why would anyone need another couple of days following the official Election Day to do anything regarding voting? All of us, with any interest at all, have known for a long time the date of the election, the various avenues to vote and the deadlines involved. It’s not, as my kids tell me on the rare occasion that they try to educate me on a topic, “rocket science.”

The absentee process, which Penny and I took advantage of, was simple and well done. We requested and received our ballots in the mail at least a month prior to the election and about two weeks later, dropped the ballots off at the auditor’s office.

Setting aside the lawsuits, there should be no reason that this country is still counting ballots three weeks following the election – at least none that make any sense to this old Stockyards fellow.

So many, many countries would give anything to have access to the voting privilege, which is taken for granted in our country. It may be time that we truly appreciate that privilege.

The folks who tend to the many needs of postal service customers at the post office complex are good at what they do and they are darn good people. It is not uncommon to see one of the mail delivery people in their little vehicle on a Sunday afternoon in the South Sixth Avenue neighborhood. I’m not certain why, but there they are.

I wrote one time about our neighbor of 40 years, who had recently retired after about the same amount of time at the U.S. Postal Service. John Olson – what a warrior – and I suspect he is very representative of the profession.

While pondering the plight of the mail carrier, it took me back 70 years to the fellow who filled the mailboxs for the Schindlers, Kistlers, Wosters, Hamiels and many others, dealing with whatever mother nature dished out. I don’t think Ernie Tagtow ever received an award, but he should have.

I’m not certain how he navigated his route because a lot of his traveled roads would have been nothing but dirt or gumbo with very little grade. But he did.

My Sister, Mary Haug, wrote a piece for South Dakota Magazine about the blizzard of Jan. 21, 1952, which set me to thinking about not only that year but the three years preceding it. Several of those years, including 1952, the roads were finally opened with Army caterpillars, leaving mounds of snow along the road, which often reached 15 or 20 feet or more in height. She also wrote about mail drops from Roy Fletcher’s plane and our dad and Milo Kistler plowing to Reliance when weather allowed.

I guess my point is, the blame for late delivery of ballots is not the fault of those who carry the bags but rather it goes directly to those who chose to wait until Election Day or later to drop a ballot in the mail.

As I write this column, 95% of the crop is out, round bales cover the fields, a decent portion of the fall tillage is complete and the market for grain has improved. That improvement will not make wealthy those who put food on our table, but it helps.

I know this Thanksgiving will be different than others but the holiday does and always will include the word thanks. If our family is healthy and we have the capacity to FaceTime or Zoom those who can’t be with us, the day offers us the opportunity to thank our higher power for all that we have been given. God bless each and all.

Jim is associate editor of Tri-State Neighbor and also works with the SDSU Alumni Foundation.