by Nelson Holmes
GARDNER- There are many things we tend to take for granted. The blues tune says it best; “you don’t miss your water until the well runs dry.” Well, I miss my post office. I never realized how significant a post office is, nor would I have guessed what an impact its absence would make, in so many aspects of a community’s life. The post office is in many ways a justification for a community’s spot on the map. Losing a post office is just another symptom of a town’s decline and usually it hints at a critical, not chronic, illness.
Socially, the post office is one of the important crossroads where neighbors meet. No matter one’s politics, religion or lifestyle, we all seem to acknowledge one another in friendly terms; in this way we validate one another as members of the same community. We trade information specific to our area and we have a bulletin board that is Gardner’s alone. On the board we hear what our friends have for sale or see notes about lost pets and livestock. If a rash of thefts begins to plague us, it’s noted on the board and if a social event looms all the particulars can be read on the notice.
I stopped into Papa Joe’s on my way home and Diana Potts told me what a horrible impact the post office closure had had on Gardner’s already struggling businesses. People used to stop into the stores for goodies or grocery items when making their rounds for the mail. Now, if you’re already in Walsenburg to get your post you’re likely to do all of your shopping at the supermarket. She also pointed out that many older Gardner residents get their prescription drugs through the mail and that arranging trips into Walsenburg could become a dangerous hardship.
The word is that a trailer will eventually be set up to fill the void until new postal accommodations can be built or the old ones repaired. Here is my worry: what if this is part of a cost cutting program and the closure is simply a “trial balloon” used to gauge the community’s reaction? Am I paranoid? Well, paranoia can be understood as a heightened sensitivity to an array of possibilities. Budgets are tight and maybe it behooves us to make some noise. We want our post office and we want to preserve our identity as a community. So call your representatives and flood the Postal Service with your concerns. Let them know that our post office matters and that the idea of Gardner matters to us. Let us at least “not go quietly” and make enough of a stink that a whiff wafts to Washington.