THE POST OFFICE
Ash Fork Madness©️
Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
copyright 2019 Nana Cook and Charlotte Madison
THE POST OFFICE
Each morning when Lucia, our dynamic U.S. Post postmistress, stood by the front door of Ash Fork’s post office and pulled on the rope tied there, she lifted the brilliant red, white and blue stars and stripes, up into luminous blue, morning sky. Her ritual signaled the real start to the town’s day.
At the sight of Old Glory rising above the picturesque, little sandstone building, cars parked on Fifth Street and Park Avenue flung open their doors to release the occupants who headed for the post office, while strollers on their way to gather their mail lengthened and quickened their stride. Some folks ran to the top of the stairs or even took the steps two at a time, while others enjoyed the morning ritual at a more leisurely pace, often stopping to chat with neighbours and friends on the way up.
G.B. was proud of his post office, which he leased to the government. While the building was being designed he had had many a contentious disagreement with the government’s architect over the design and construction of his post office. There were disputes G.B. lost, such as when the architect wanted to incorporate into the walls, pieces of dark Supai Red rock amongst the pastel stones.
“Like measles on a kid’s face! Oh Charle, all the stone colors should be soft like the shades of the Grand Canyon.” G.B. pleaded passionately. “Those dark red pieces make yer eye jump like a frog on a hot griddle! They have their place, but not on my GOD DAMNED POST OFFICE WALL!”
And there were debates won, such as when G.B. insisted that there would be ample space at the top of the stairs, outside the post office door, to allow people to stand and read a letter, gossip with friends, or enjoy the high desert view.
Inside the post office the townspeople clustered at their mail boxes. They dialled their combinations and reached deeply into the small black boxes which held letters from family, friends and lovers, mysterious small packages, and catalogues — the only form of recreational shopping available to many residents, which in turn brought more wonders to the post office.
A “too large for box” card meant a gift or a long awaited (often six to eight weeks) treasure had arrived. If the package read “Keep in a Cool Place” it contained plants, trees or shrubs. The new shoots of anxious rose bushes, cardboard boxed Holland bulbs and cellophane wrapped strawberry plants dribbling damp sawdust, were looked upon enviously by those with only bills and newspapers in their hands to take home. Once or twice each year, were we all greeted by the voices of spring — the peep of golden yellow chicks and ducklings, delivered into Lucia’s loving care by the United States Federal Mail.
The only harsh racket ever heard in the post office was G.B. fighting with his combination dial. He fought a lot of inanimate objects which “deliberately disobeyed” him: loaders and fork-lifts which insisted on going backward instead of forward, a particularly devious file cabinet that “hid thangs” that were never to be seen again, adding machines that calculatedly “messed” with him and of course his nemeses — his post office combination lock. Each morning when he was trounced by the “GOD DAMNED LOCK IN M’ VERY OWN POST OFFICE!” he would bellow to Lucia as she patiently and calmly passed him his bundle of mail.
G.B. used to say, “’Cept fer the wanted poster, ever’ face in the post office is a treasure to us Charle. I reckon I know most ever’ one in m’ little town. I know who ran away an’ who they ran with. I know who’s pregnant an’ who made ‘er that way. I know who’s honest an’ who I can’t trust beyond the reach a’ my pick-handle. But when I stand here at the top of my post office steps an’ look at the people ‘round me, I’d do anything fer any one of ‘em. It’s better to trust an’ help the person y’all can’t trust, than to not help him an’ then discover y’all should a’”
G.B. helped many a person at the post office before his day had barely begun: a loan, a job, a house rental, a vehicle fuel, a meal — or he might just tell them to go “STRAIGHT TO HAYLL WHILE AH PRAY FER YE!”
Posted by Charlotte Madison at 07:56
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|For over forty years, painting related totally to the American Southwest. It was people of the dry hot desert, solid mesas, cacti, stone and canyons that made my heart leap.
When I realized I would never see the desert again, I began a search for something to paint. Nana suggested, B.C, vineyards and took me to Penticton where I did one painting. Nana and Gary then began to take me on Mystery tours of the island and always included a vineyard. But they all were so green! So many leaves so many trees - I don't do trees and I rarely use green - dont really like looking at green, but I got started on a duty series not an inspired series.
I guess it was July or early August when we were driving home from a winery visit. I was grousing about painting the Festive Flying Grape series
when Gary said "Start another series, you can work on more than one at a time."
For some reason those words triggered the words "I could paint the Island artists!" Nana and Gary agreed and it was the topic of conversation all the way home
For a while I was afraid I wouldn't get volunteers to pose but it is rolling and each one offers something special to inspire me. And it is lovely to feel all I am doing was sparked by Gary and like all I do, supported by Nana.
April Update 2012
Sixteen fine artists, many of national repute, have posed for Artists of Vancouver Island and many are booked or promised. There will be no poses after June 30,2012. When I have painted all twenty-five I will turn my thought to . . . what next?