Clerks on an RPO enjoy each other’s company. Courtesy of the family of Stephen T. Whitehurst, Levittown, PA
“The guys liked to play different kinds of jokes like that, all of them, good sports about it. It was just, we became very close out there. We were together for about six days and nights, and you just became like a big family.” —Daniel Moore of Grafton, West Virginia
Life on the trains wasn’t just the same old routine day-in and day-out. Aside from the dangerous hazards of fire and train wrecks, and the off-the-wall packages of eggs or human remains, Railway Mail Clerks also had to deal with the frenzy of the winter holidays. From early November to late January, the Railway Mail Service expected high mail volume, known as heavy mails while summer months experienced lighter mails. Some RPOs added extra staff to runs in the winter and cut down in the summer. But it was the unexpected bursts of heavy mails that were the hardest to deal with. Mail volume was always monitored and recorded because the public cared about speed.(1)
“We were like brothers.” —John Sipko of Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Clerks stand with a catcher arm in the door of an RPO car. Courtesy of Daniel Holovach of Toms River, New Jersey
Railway Post Office clerks loved the adventure of working the railway mail. The challenge of working the mail on moving trains really motivated many clerks to take the job. There was also the appeal traveling the United States. Aubrey Booth of Forest, Virginia, remembers stopping in Washington, D.C. on his run. He saw President Johnson and Senator Robert Kennedy.