Back in the late 1960’s I worked as a part-time flexible (PTF) employee for the Post Office while attending college. I was a letter carrier and also delivered parcel post routes out of Nagel Station (now Weathers) in St. Louis, MO. As a PTF, I filled in where needed and every day was a new adventure. As the holidays approached, the volume of packages increased. Back then USPS had the majority of the parcel business and Nagel Station had several year-round “parcel post” routes that covered north St. Louis and most of north St. Louis County.The old one ton trucks assigned to these routes were noisy and usually without working heaters but as the seasons changed and the temperatures dropped, I preferred delivering packages in a truck to walking a route in the wind and cold. If I was assigned a parcel route for the day, I felt like I won the lottery.The week before Christmas, package volumes out grew the capability of our truck fleet to deliver them. I was told to report early one morning, along with a few other PTFs and we were transported over to the parking lot of an ice cream vendor on North Broadway. In the summer time, this company’s trucks patrolled the streets of St. Louis selling ice cream treats to the kids streaming out of their homes at the sound of the monotone music that blared from the speaker on top of the truck like that of the Piped Piper, with the same effect on children.In the winter these trucks sat idle, so postal management decided to lease a few and I was assigned an ice cream truck for the week. Early each morning I would load up the truck’s interior with packages of all shapes and sizes that included automobile tires, pogo sticks, bags of oranges, boxes of fruit and nuts and other packages of endless sizes and shapes. I would set out to deliver my load and then return again around noon to fill up again and then a third time for an early evening delivery, all in an effort to get as many packages delivered by Christmas because it was commonly believed most of the packages were Christmas presents and we were on a mission to get them delivered in time for the big day.It was unseasonably warm that week. Kids were outside playing on the weekend, as well as, after school and on Christmas Eve. When I turned down their street, they were so excited to see me. Well, not me so much as the ice cream truck. Even without the music, they jumped for joy at the sight of the ice cream man on their street. I could have sold a lot of ice cream that year!The best part of the week was the satisfaction I received by delivering packages to the families in the neighborhoods. There was no doubt in my mind most of those packages were destined for under the tree to be opened on Christmas morning. I wanted to make sure I got every one of them delivered so no one would be disappointed. The smiles and receptions I received as I handed over those “gifts” made me feel that in some very small way I was contributing to everyone’s holiday season.I’ll never forget the joy of delivering Christmas presents in an ice cream truck for the postal service. It was the best Christmas ever!
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