The first time I went into our Navasota Post Office nearly 12 years ago, there was a pleasant, familiar feeling about it. I love our post office, but aside from Frank’s friendly banter, I wasn’t quite sure why. Then it hit me - it reminded me of trips to the Houston Heights Post Office with my mother when I was a child. So, here I go again, waxing nostalgic!
When I was a little girl, we were homebodies. Going to the Barbecue Inn on Crosstimbers for Mother’s Day was a major event for us. So, these pop-up images of seemingly insignificant moments with my mother, like our periodic trips to the Heights Post Office at 1815 Rutland, kind of startled me.
I remember crossing the threshold of the post office many times, my hand in hers, feeling that this was a very important place, though kind of scary. Maybe it was the “Wanted” posters on the walls, or the iron bars on the counter that separated us from postal employees, whatever it was, I stayed close to Mama quietly observing my surroundings.
Wondering if the Heights Post Office is still in operation, I turned to Google. According to the Texas State Historical Association Handbook Online, Rutland Street might not have been its original location. TSHA said the Heights post office operated from 1894 until 1915. Trying to find out when the Rutland facility did open, my search led to an apparent national architecturally-driven post office building campaign in 1915.
On the first page alone, more than half dozen post offices across the country were built that year. Though not listed on Google, all you have to do is look at the cornerstone of the current Navasota Post Office to see that it too was constructed in 1915 during this post office building boom.
Though I wouldn’t bet the farm on Wikipedia, I found this reference to “an era of post office design where government buildings were individually designed and were intended as monuments to bring Federal ideas and sophisticated architecture to small communities.” I guess this explains our local post office’s rather large, formal presence on Farquhar Street. In this day of boxy-looking, modern mail facilities, Navasota has a post office with history and character.
While I never found out when the Heights Post Office opened on Rutland Street, I did learn that postal operations moved several times after I left the Heights in 1973. The Heights Post Office is now in one of those red, white and blue box buildings somewhere on T.C. Jester, which by the way, is NOT the Heights!
I was pleased to learn that in 1986, 1815 Rutland was given new life and new purpose by the Houston Junior Forum. The building with those hazy, bittersweet memories of time spent with my mom, now serves her beloved Heights as the HJF’s upscale resale shop, providing funds for scholarships and community grant programs.
During our years in Bedias, my late husband and I tried to make post office memories with our grandchildren, making a big production about driving “to town” to pick up the mail. You know, one turned the key while the other pulled the mail out, then dividing it up so everyone held the same amount of mail on the way home? They’re all much older now and the mailbox in my yard holds no attraction for anyone but me.
American young adult fiction writer, Kami Garcia, said in one of her novels, “Old things are better than new things, because they’ve got stories in them.”
Stories of good news, bad news, letters home from war weary soldiers, parcels from the Sears Roebuck catalog making some housewife’s day, at 106 years old, just imagine the stories our Navasota Post Office could tell!
Connie Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.