One of the greatest boons ever granted, land acquisition aside, to the people who settled in this area in the summer of 1900 — Rural Free Delivery — of U.S. Mail to people living on the farms in Kandiyohi County. Prior to the beginning of this service farmers had to go to the nearest post office (there were nine of them at that time) to pick up their mail or post letters. Under RFD this was all being handled by a corps of rural mail carriers.
You have to hand it to those guys; they took the mail through, unless ways of reaching their patrons were absolutely out of the question.
O. B. Glarum was the first rural mail carrier in the county with 17 more added in a very short time.
Those men took their new jobs seriously, and they added new services for their patrons.
No one objected when a mail carrier added a box of groceries to a delivery. They all knew that their carrier would do the same thing for them. Patrons could call the grocery store, give an order to the clerk who answered the phone and forget it. It would be delivered the next day at the latest.
Men could do the same thing with businesses which dealt in farm supplies.
Whether or not the postal inspectors who showed up now and then knew this free extra service was being carried on didn’t make any difference so long as it didn’t interfere with the mail.
Mailmen furnished their own transportation, so delivery was made mostly by automobiles, but horse-drawn sleds were not uncommon. Arthur Johnson, who worked out of the Atwater post office, had what may well have been the first snowmobile in the county. It was a big sedan, on which the rear wheels had been replaced by chain-drive mechanisms, which would practically guarantee delivery anywhere the snow drifts weren’t 20 feet high. The rig could be seen for several miles by looking for the huge plume of snow it kicked up. His deliveries were completed faster than those of mailmen who had to follow roads — Art just cut across country.
As old as it is the Rural Free Delivery service carries out its duties without fuss or ado — a truly great service!
Writing about postal service brings to mind the way things were done 75 or 80 years ago.
George Enblom had farmed for years and years and years southwest of Atwater. He was not interested in politics, but he and the congressman for that district at that time had been friends almost all their lives.
So it was only reasonable that, when President Hoover was voted out of office, most (if not all) of the post masters in the country had to be replaced. The congressman, who lived in the very southern part of the district, was not well acquainted with the Atwater area. He wrote to his friend George Enblom, asking him for a nomination for a new postmaster for the Atwater office, since politics was removing the current one. George thought the whole system was just a bit awry so as a joke, he sent the requested letter to his old friend. It was a tongue-in-cheek letter saying that he knew of no one better qualified to become Atwater’s postmaster than himself.
To his surprise, a couple of weeks later he received (by U.S. Mail) a certificate which said the same thing.