Crothersville native retires from post office after 37 years



Whether you met her delivering mail around town or bought stamps from her, Carolyn “Carol” King always displayed a positive, professional personality.

From serving as a mail carrier to working inside as a clerk, officer in charge or postmaster, she became the face of the Crothersville Post Office.

And a cheery one at that.

“I have truly always enjoyed every position that I’ve held,” King said. “I considered it a great honor when I became postmaster. It was something that I took a great deal of pride in and appreciated the opportunity to be able to serve in that position.”

During her tenure, she held every position except rural carrier.

Before she knew it, 37 years had passed since she started her career with the post office. That led her to begin thinking about retirement.

In December, King made the official announcement, and her last day at the post office at 302 E. Main St. was Feb. 2.

“I have been eligible for a few years, so I guess you could say that thought would pass through,” the 60-year-old said. “I really didn’t have a reason. I think I just kind of got to a point in my life that I’m like, ‘Um, I think it’s time to move on.’

“For the first time in my life, I don’t really have to plan, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” she said, laughing.

Troy Lovegrove, a supervisor at the Brownstown Post Office, has replaced King. He will remain officer in charge until a postmaster is selected.

After King graduated from Crothersville High School in 1976, she spent a few years as a receptionist for Dr. Frank Bard.

That office was just down the alley from the post office, so King often would go there to pick up or drop off mail, and she developed a friendship with the post office employees.

One day, the postmaster called King and told her applications were being accepted to take the test to get hired by the post office.

On the last day applications were being offered, the postmaster called King and insisted she come get one.

“Because of my friendship with him, I thought, ‘Oh, OK,'” she said. “On my lunch break, I picked up the application and sent it in.”

King received an invitation to take the test in the summer of 1979 at the main post office in Indianapolis.

Most of it was testing short-term memory, she said.

“It would give you a list of addresses to memorize, addresses listed in column A, B, C and D,” she said. “The addresses would be very similar but just a little bit different, like maybe the direction on the address — north, south — may be different. Then when you actually took the test, they would give you an address, and you would have to recall, ‘Was that address a part of column A, B, C or D?'”

Those who pass the test remained on a hiring register for two years. A year after King took it, she received a call about an interview for a position at Crothersville.

On Dec. 12, 1980, she started as a town carrier and was one of three at the time.

She spent a couple of days with another carrier to learn the route and was on her own by the third day.

The post office didn’t have vehicles for carriers to use, so they walked around town to deliver mail. The post office leased a car to take mail to green relay boxes around town that carriers used to pick up mail to deliver for that area.

“We would put bundles of mail in those boxes, so they would fill their satchel with mail and deliver to a located box, and then when they unlocked the box, their mail was in there,” King said.

In the mid-1980s, the post office received some postal vehicles, so the mail was loaded into them for carriers to drive around town and park to make a delivery loop.

The town also used to have 10 blue mailboxes for customers to drop off outgoing mail, but there are now only two — one in front of the post office and one near Subway.

“The boxes that are not utilized very much, they will do a piece study on that box,” King said. “If it’s not generating X number of pieces a day, they will make the decision to remove that box.”

At one point, the smaller route in town was absorbed into the larger one, so there’s now only one full-time carrier. King said it’s about 12 miles walking to make 565 deliveries.

There also is a substitute carrier, and then there are two carriers who do rural routes — homes that have Crothersville addresses but are outside town limits. Rural carriers make nearly 575 deliveries apiece.

As a carrier, King also helped inside the post office when needed, especially when mail volume increased around Christmastime.

“Nowadays, the processing is done by automation, so our mail is shipped into Indianapolis to be processed,” she said. “But back in 1980, that equipment wasn’t available to us, so we did our own.”

They would face the letters, put all of the stamps in the same direction and cancel the stamps. Then they would sort the mail by distribution area, whether in town, out of state or out of the country.

“It was quite a process back then,” King said.

In the late 1980s, a clerk’s position came open, so she filled that role for a while.

When the full-time town carrier retired, she transitioned back to that position.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” King said of being a carrier. “As long as you were meeting the time standards that they set for you, providing good service to your customers, basically, you came in, you got your mail, you cased it up and when you left for your day for delivery, you were kind of on your own back then with little supervision.

“You developed quite a rapport with your customers because you are the employee that comes face to face with that customer, so I enjoyed that part of it, as well,” she said.

On March 1, 1998, the postmaster retired, and King was appointed officer in charge. That position has the same responsibilities as the postmaster, including scheduling employees, providing resources for them to do their job, customer service, order supplies and other day-to-day operations.

In September 1998, she was named postmaster.

At 6:30 a.m. each day, she arrived at the post office to sort mail by routes and have them ready for the carriers when they came in at 7:30 a.m.

She did that by herself. At larger post offices, clerks typically would do that work. Once the clerks came in, King moved on to other tasks.

Since most people knew King from her time as a carrier and a clerk, she said it wasn’t much of a transition becoming postmaster.

“Many of the customers, I had already developed a friendship, a rapport with and gained their trust, so I think it was easy for them to accept me in that position,” she said.

The most rewarding part of her job was customer service, she said.

“I truly enjoyed our customers. They were very supportive of me in that position and very supportive of our post office,” King said.

“Because I had been there for so long and I know these customers on a personal basis, there is truly a connection there,” she said. “You do take it a step further, I think. There is more of a personal commitment. Many of those people you see, you surround yourself in your personal life as well as at the post office.”

King said she hopes the next postmaster focuses on customer service, too.

“It was always my goal to offer professional service; however, also, it was always very important to me that every customer felt like they were our most important, that it would be a warm, friendly atmosphere and helpful,” she said. “I hope that would be something that they would continue.”

In retirement, King said she wants to spend more time with her family, including motorcycling with her husband and making trips to Florida to see her brother and parents when they stay there during the winter.

“When you’re working, some days, your weeks get longer and longer because of commitments and goals that you want to accomplish that week,” she said. “So when you’re working, a lot of times, the personal side of your life gets put on hold. I have no regrets for that, but it’s time that I can focus on some different things.”

She said it will be nice to take a vacation and not have to check email or text messages related to work.

“If I didn’t have everything organized and ready, then my crew can’t be successful, and so it’s just hard to turn that off,” she said, smiling. “It’s really hard to turn that off when you know people are depending on you.”

Even though she never got to be a rural carrier in her 37 years with the post office, she’s not too disappointed. She’s just ready to enjoy retirement.

“I would have welcomed that one, as well,” she said, smiling. “The opportunity just didn’t come.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”King file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Carolyn “Carol” King

Age: 60

Hometown: Crothersville

Residence: Crothersville

Education: Crothersville High School (1976)

Occupation: Recently retired after 37 years at the Crothersville Post Office

Family: Husband, Ronnie King; son, Evan King; daughter, Lisa (Matthew) Miller


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