50 years, one million miles later, Black retires

STONY CREEK After serving for 48 years delivering the mail throughout Stony Creek, Ashley Black retired June 30. The length of time he officially held the mail delivery contract is extraordinary, but his actual time spent delivering mail to the people around town goes back closer to 50 years. Black estimated this week that over this last half-century, hes traveled about one million miles on the road delivering the mail. Ashleys father Walter Black had the route for about 25 years before. Toward the end of Walter Blacks tenure, he had a stroke and his wife Lorna, who did not have a drivers license, took over as a substitute. It was summer and Ashley, age 16, was on vacation and had a drivers license. His mother got special permission for him to drive the mail route. Because he was not yet 18, he was not allowed to touch the mail, he recalls. Ashley Black got back to high school in the fall but was still involved in the mail delivery. He delivered the Stony Creek mail on Saturdays and some holidays. Various arrangements enabled the Black family to keep the mail contract while Ashley was in school. A qualified woman came here to do the delivery when he was in classes during the day. When the short days of winter arrived, they faced the state law prohibiting him from driving after dark at his age. Ed Rayder, a man about five years older from a well-known Knowlhurst family, solved the problem of getting the outgoing mail down to Hadley in the evening. He would go with Ashley at 4 p.m. when it was getting dark to take the mail to Hadley. Ashley graduated from high school 47 years ago in 1961, whereupon he delivered the mail throughout Stony Creek without interruption ever since. For many years, he drove a total of 120 miles each day to deliver the mail here and to take four trips each day to Hadley. In addition to two trips to the Hadley post office in the morning for a mail pickup and a return trip to drop off mail, he had a second run during the afternoon to pick up more mail in Hadley to bring here. When he started handling the mail, he could do this after he got home from school. At the end of the day, he drove the rest of the outgoing mail that originated in Stony Creek to the Hadley post office. The length of the Stony Creek route increased and practices changed from the days when his father picked up the mail from the train at Stony Creek Station near the present location of Marie Fishers house. Today there are three independent mail trucks to Stony Creek each day, each originating in Corinth and the final truck ending here with the last pickup in the evening. Jeff Thomas, another respected and familiar face around Stony Creek, takes over the mail route on July 1, after riding the route June 30 with Black. Many of Blacks recollections about the past and present mail delivery around Stony Creek will likely be heard at a special party in his honor to be held at the town hall Saturda, July 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. All are welcome.

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