Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Learning responsibility: Mary D, PA

If you live in a community affected by possible Post Office closure, you've either received or been able to pick up a Postal Service Customer Questionnaire at the PO in question. USPS obtains public commentary from all communities, and ideally, uses the feedback to determine whether or not to discontinue a post office.

On said forms (of which I have a copy from several post offices I've recently visited), customers can respond whether they use their local post office for just the purchase of stamps, the mailing of parcels, the pick-up of PO Box mail, and so forth. An interesting query is whether there's a school bus stop at or near the post office.

I was wondering why in the world such a question was on a postal questionnaire, but as I rolled into the town of Mary D, Pennsylvania and entered the post office at 3:20 on Friday afternoon, I discovered a possible reason why: when the kids got off their school bus, I witnessed several march in, some with their parents, go to their PO Box, and proudly march out with their mail, ready for delivery home. I didn't get pictures of this, but it was an absolutely adorable sight.

Mary D, PA post office:

It was odd to see a post office with hardly any recognizable signage [the other cues being the blue collection box, the parking lot, American flag, and the two miniscule Sonic Eagles on the windows], but this was one of what turned out to be several oddly-lacking-in-signage facilities in rural PA that I saw.

My above story is just an anecdote, of course, but it goes to demonstrate another aspect of the civic value of post offices. Once again, residents I saw on the street were convinced their post office would close. If they had to go to the next town, Tuscarora, for their mail -- even if it's just a mile away -- their kids would no longer have the opportunity to participate in an American tradition that's lasted more than 200 years.

Mary D lies southeast of I-81, and about 12 miles south of Hazleton, PA.

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The post office in the town of Brockton, PA, another mile down the road, was discontinued about a year ago. A resident directed me to the former site, in the side of someone's home just off the main street.

Incidentally, you'll never guess at which post office Brockton residents were told by USPS, a year ago, they could now get their postal services... that's right, Mary D!

Former site: Brockton, PA Post Office:

For the record, I'm still trying to figure out how Mary D got its name... I'm guessing it pertains to the first resident or the loved one of an initial resident, but I have no real idea. The question was posed on a question-answer website back in 2004, and nobody ever replied.


  1. Those aren't sonic eagles in the windows at Mary D, those are the previous emblem. The sonic eagle, so called because its flying so fast, I suppose, is the more stylized one with just the head. They started using it in 1993.

  2. I assume that the name Mary D was the name of the local coal mine. The mine was probably named for the owner's daughter or somebody.

  3. Read how the town got its name:,3316918

  4. I hope you (Evan K.) are still in touch with your posting from ten years ago about the US post office in Mary D, PA, because I have all the answers you wish you didn't want. First, I'll explain the origin of the name Mary D. It belonged to Mary Delores Dodson, the wife of the owner of the Mary D Coal Company, which built not only the mine but all the houses and rented them to the miners. It also built and ran the company store in the same building which now houses the USPO. Mr. Dodson and his coal company went bankrupt in the early 1930s following the crash on Wall Street, after which the banks sold the houses, including the company store which my paternal grandparents purchased. They divided it into a home entirely on the second floor (except for the kitchen and laundry room) and dry goods and grocery store entirely on the first floor. Their business thrived until after WWII. When large grocery store chains moved in, and people could afford cars in more significant numbers, my grandparents finally closed the store in 1963. When the US Postal Service was looking for a more convenient location for their Mary D post office than the one they occupied at the top of the hill, my father made them an irresistible deal for 1/4 of the floor space in my grandparents' old store. All the best...Ed Dougherty in NYC