BY-WAYS -9/11/41 - The Rural Letter Carrier

The "National Rural Letter Carrier," only 16 pages thick, is a friendly little magazine. As you pore over its pages - "black and white and re(a)d all over" - you get the "feel" of kindness, tolerance, eager readiness to help the other fellow, a mellowness that comes only to those who spend a great deal of time out in the real world - that God made. Even the editors and busy officials, transplanted to town offices and homes, carry with them the most important chattels - memories of country roads, trees - all sizes - "lifting up their arms to pray", the fields - all sizes and shapes - the beautiful patch-work quilt of nature, changing, with man's help, its pattern every spring. The sounds a rural letter-carrier hears are all happy sounds - singing, or humming or chirping sounds; as he passes a barnyard - or farmyard - he hears the clarion call of the rooster (and whose spirits do not rise on that note of triumph); the hens are singing their tuneless but cheery song; over in the haymow, or the chicken-coop, an unneurotic hen is telling the whole world that she has just laid an egg. Happy, contented sounds - every one of them. The rural mail carrier meets the most wholesome people; he must take great satisfaction in being so important and useful to these people; his daily coming is an event; he brings letters from distant dear ones, love letters, newspapers, the best magazines; intriguing mail-order catalogues. He brings fewer bills, by far, than the city mailman. His job can be soul-satisfying, for he is doing a great public service. I wonder if the rural mail carriers, here and there, still do those little extra bits of service that we used to read about. Maybe they are forbidden to take on "extras," like delivering a basket of eggs in town for a woman who has no means of transportation, or giving the ultra service of weighing, regularly, the baby for a country mother. I suppose those days are gone with the horse and buggy.

The editor of this fine little magazine, "The National Letter Carrier," is Cleland C. McDevitt, who, with his wife and two boys, lives in Washington. The family has a farm somewhere, because "Mac's" wife, Martha, in her own column, "Around the Corner with Martha," tells of a "darling black chicken" being presented to her and Mac at a banquet (in a hotel) this year. She named it Snow White. Let me quote from her column: "This winter she has been very active in laying eggs, but now she has a new vocation. She made friends with one of my ducks, and when the duck decided to set, she took up her vigil beside her. Every time the duck took a walk, Snow White took over caring for the eggs. After four weeks twelve little ducks appeared on the scene, and they divided them - six apiece - so now Snow White takes her six little ducklings for their daily walks, and the Mama duck takes her six, and it is really cute. Somebody asked me if I taught them how to count while they were setting there, side by side, but honest to Pat, I didn't; they just learned all by themselves. Nature can teach us some wonderful things..." Can't you just picture how sweet and wholesome this editor's wife is? And if you could see her picture, that would settle it. She's a lot like Kate Smith.

I like the way these letter carriers, in sending in their news items and reports, refer to each other as "brother." Even "Mac," in printing an excoriating letter from a disgruntled or bilious reader, tolerantly called him "Brother." I got quite a kick out of a letter from a "brother" in California. He starts off his letter by saying: "The difference between a hunting dog and a mutt is that the hunting dog sticks to one trail until he finds his quarry. The mutt runs just as hard, but never gets anywhere, and when the day is over he hasn't anything to show for his effort." This clever writer goes on to show how a well-meaning organization can start a lot of projects, and never see them through. See how these rural letter carriers and their editors take lessons from farm and country life. More power to them. And may they keep right on in the abundant life, of which their letters are testament.

Thank you, James R. Lytle, for your abundant help. You all know the old saying that we get out of life just what we put into it. I am sure "Brother Lytle" is rich indeed.

Best wishes to all.
Florence B. Taylor

Next -9/18/41 - Teachers' Picnic