September 27, 2007

Local Family Delivers Three Generations of Mail Carriers

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds…”

That saying has often been associated with the mail carriers for the United States Postal Service. It also could be used as the theme when three generations of one local lineage gather for a family reunion.

For nearly 50 years, either Vic Orf, his daughter Debbie Frederick or her son Jeff Frederick, have been delivering mail in Memphis.

Vic was hired in 1960 at the Memphis Post Office as a sub rural carrier. He was also a city carrier and a clerk. He retired in 1986.

Just a year later, his daughter Debbie was hired at the Memphis Post Office. She started in 1987 as a city carrier/clerk. Debbie was named postmaster at Gorin in 1993 and then postmaster at Wyaconda in 2005 where she works today.

Jeff was hired at the Edina Post Office in 2006 as a city carrier and transferred to the Memphis post office in 2007 where he presently works as a city carrier/clerk.

There have been many changes in the 47 years between generations. Postal stamps in 1960 cost 4 cents when Vic started. In 1987, when Debbie started, they cost 22 cents. Now, in 2007, while Jeff is currently employed, postage stamps cost 41 cents.

All postage in the 60’s were gummed. The USPS no longer leaves a bad taste in the mailer’s mouth, as the majority of stamps now are self-adhesive.

When Vic started in 1960, the Memphis Post Office was located south of Coffrin’s Shoe Store. A new post office was built and dedicated in 1962 and is the present location.

The postal emblem has also changed over the years. When Vic started in 1960, the emblem was a horse and rider with the organization called the Post Office Department. In 1970, it was changed to the United States Postal Service with an eagle as its emblem. The change also denoted a transition of the postal service from the federal to the private sector. The Postmaster General ceased to be a member of the President’s Cabinet and operational authority became vested in a Board of Governors and Postal Service executive management, rather than in Congress.

The three generations also witnessed technology at work in the system. In the 60’s most letter mail was sorted by hand but now the majority of the mail is sorted by machines. That may have had something to do with a more than 300% increase in mail handled by the postal service. In 1960 the post office of Vic Orf’s era handled more than 63 billion pieces of mail across the nation. Last year, Jeff and his fellow USPS carriers delivered more than 213 billion pieces of mail nationwide.

One thing that didn’t change much over the family’s tenure has been the Memphis Post Master. In nearly 50 years the office has been held by just three individuals. Dwight DeRosear held the post while Vic was working. Gary Bush took over in 1991 before Terri Starbuck, the current post master, was named to the position in April of 2004.

All three generations say the United States Postal Service is a great place to work because they get to work with a lot of great people - their customers.

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