Archive » April 30, 2009
QUAINT POST OFFICE RELIES ON THEIR GOOD MEMORY
By Wendy Thompson, Staff Writer
Los Olivos was named for the olive groves planted there in hope of creating a large olive industry in the late 1800s, and was one of the original towns of the Santa Ynez Valley. Although the wagonloads of olive cuttings never took root, people did. To this day Los Olivos retains its small town feel and many small town traditions.
Los Olivos never grew much, and you can bet there aren’t a whole lot of jobs in the unincorporated town. Though it is still a sleepy little berg with lots of delectable wines to taste, you have to be pretty darn smart to have the oldest government job in town, and you better have an impeccable memory.
“Postmistress” Lori Oakley, who has been at the post office for 23 years, and mail clerks Dell Geier and Tiffany Trojmer are that smart, so don’t try to pull any fast ones. They not only weigh packages and sort deliveries, they know just about every name and number of Los Olivos’ 1,000 residents.
There is no street delivery in the rural agricultural town, and it may be that Los Olivians like it that way. Though to a new age computer user, this may sound inefficient, it is not inconvenient; the residents are actually kind of spoiled. Although post offices remain the traditional and legal place for public notices, agendas, wanted posters and death notices to be posted, in this Internet quick-as-lightening information age, they no longer play the role they once did.
In the old days, the postmaster knew you by name and box number. You’d chat and head back home, updated on local meetings and how your neighbors were faring. In quaint, time-frozen Los Olivos, the post office is still that kind of place.
“The Los Olivos post office has always prided itself on knowing all the names and box numbers,” says Oakley, who served as grand marshal in the Los Olivos Day parade Oct. 18, along with Geier. The post office in Los Olivos was founded in 1887.
Incredibly, Oakley, Geier and Trojmer recognize the 750 box holders by face and have memorized their box numbers. And if no address is on the envelope, no worries; it usually makes its intended destination. “We care about our customers,” Oakley says. “We will even deliver mail with no address.” They can do this because they know everyone in town.
Oakley, Geier and Trojmer are proud to keep up all of the Los Olivos’s post office traditions. If the American flag on the 64-foot flagpole that marks the center of Los Olivos is flying half mast, it is Oakley and Geier who tell the residents who passed away.
Oakley said that with 2009, they have a new employee on board, and she is not a new face or name to memorize. Tiffany Trojmer transferred from the Santa Ynez post office in January. Trojmer has about 20 years experience in the postal business.
Oakley says she trained Trojmer as a mail carrier years ago, in 1988. “This will be a nice quiet spot to finish out her career, with fewer hours,” says Oakley. The three women worked together in the late 1980s at one of the post offices in Santa Barbara.
In addition to their other duties, all three ladies also tend to the town cat, Maya, providing the black-and-white feline with a blanket-lined mail bin and a quiet corner whenever she stops for a rest.
It’s another of the town’s traditions — Maya is a homeless free agent; everyone in town takes care of her.
“This is the post office. We are just doing our job,” Oakley says. “People appreciate us for doing it. People rely on the post office for information. It’s wonderful to be here.”
Reach Wendy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.