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Common sense and our post offices

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

The U.S. Postal Service has offered many assurances that the Lakeville post office will remain open. Still, there is some skepticism among community members who believe the building in the middle of town may prove too tempting a money saver for the struggling mail deliverer.

What is it in a small town that makes the potential closing of its post office such an ominous event? After all, there are three post offices in the town of Salisbury: one in Salisbury, one in Taconic and the one in Lakeville. The Cornwalls also have three post offices, small though they may be, in West Cornwall, Cornwall Bridge and Cornwall. Even little Falls Village, the second smallest town in the state, has its post office. Are they all necessary?

Probably not, from the postal system’s economic point of view, but when it comes to social structure in small towns, every post office is one that will be missed.

These are all towns with few other gathering places with the longevity of their post offices. Those who work at these post offices know their towns and their residents — who lives where and how they are generally doing — as few others do. Even as more of us take our bill-paying and other previously paper-driven processes online, we shop online, and the packages are often delivered by our mail carriers.

But as more and more communication takes place online, revenues for the U.S. Postal Service will continue to drop. Do we really want to see this physical form of communication disappear completely, to have no way to write a letter or send a card to someone?

It’s an inexpensive and relatively quick and reliable way to keep in touch with one another. And really, there is something (isn’t there?) to the quality of thought one puts into a written letter or thank-you or condolence card as opposed to shooting off an email. As letter-writing and paper correspondence become less and less common — and less relevant — something in the quality of human interaction and the recording of it will be lost.

Anyone remember finding packets of letters, romantic or otherwise, tied with an old ribbon, in the belongings of a relative or friend? Or school papers, or poems, or yes, letters, written by a parent, saved in a box along with other memorabilia that reveals a side of that person rarely seen in day-to-day life? Can one find the same sort of depth reviewing a person’s Facebook page or email account?

Here’s an idea: Send a letter to an old friend or a relative with whom you rarely speak. That’s right, sit down with a pen, a sheet of paper, an envelope and a stamp, and put some thoughts down that may never otherwise see the light of day. This individual approach, taken with obvious care and sacrifice of personal time and energy, may inspire some surprising new connections. If enough of us take part in such arguably experimental and unique behavior, maybe the closing of our area post offices will become less likely.