For the past 20 years, Bannock Postmistress Evelyn Melet kept her customers' parcels safe and dry, held their mail while on they were on vacation and, during times of need, served as a sounding board for their problems.
Friday was her last day of work and also the final day of operation for her post office. The Bannock site was closed because the Postal Service and its landlord could not reach a new lease agreement. And the Postal Service apparently did not want to explore finding a new site. Customers who had P.O. boxes in Bannock now will receive their mail via rural carrier or they can have boxes in St. Clairsville.
For Melet, the occasion was bittersweet because she decided to also retire since the office was closing. All day long well-wishers stopped in the office to say goodbye and retrieve or send their mail one more time.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Bannock Postmistress Evelyn Melet stands in front of the window of the Post Office on Friday, its last day of operation.
''I've had lots of people stopping in today. I've even had guys cry with me. They've been coming here since they were this big,'' Melet said, lowering her hand to her knee.
Melet said her post office was still busy and had 80 box holders. Over the years the volume of mail decreased mostly due to people using email instead of mailing letters, she believes.
''It's sad we're losing the local post office. This is where you find out about Trick or Treat. She was like the mayor - this is where you got your information from and where you bought stamps,'' said customer Janie Witchey.
Betty Oarr, who lives next to the post office that is situated in half of a house, always admired Melet's pleasant attitude.
''There was always a smile on her face. ... I gave her a quilt - I made it,'' Oarr said of her retirement present for Melet.
Other friends and family sent Melet colorful flowers and another person sent a large toy postal-themed bear. Melet put out a cake and chips for her customers to share on the final day.