The Coast News Group

In the days when mail came general delivery

DEL MAR — Once upon a time, the village post office was located in a small building, a few doors north of the current Bully’s. Mae Kibler was the postmaster (official title then) and her husband, Luke, had a real estate office next door where she could keep an eye on him since he was inclined to sample the grape every now and then.
In addition to putting incoming mail into the boxes, Mae and her assistant did good business selling penny postcards and three-cent stamps. Also available were 10-cent “special delivery” stamps sold to customers who had to send a letter in a hurry. This meant it would be delivered to the home of the addressee sooner than later.
Some folks couldn’t afford to rent a box so they received their mail “general delivery.” They went to the window and inquired if there was anything for them. Mae or her assistant would sort through a box with all the general delivery mail. Envelopes were marked “If not delivered within five days return to sender.” No explanation for this except maybe to keep the stack of general deliveries from getting too cumbersome.
On weekdays, Kenneth Fitzhugh who operated a Union 76 garage at the corner of Highway 101 and 14th Street, would drive by and pick up the sack of outgoing mail and he took to the train station. If there were passengers waiting to board, the train would stop. Otherwise Fitzhugh would hang the mail sack on a bar alongside the track and the conductor would it grab it with a hook as the train sped past. If residents missed the pickup at the post office, they could go to the station and post their letters in a slot on the side of the train’s mail car. Provided, of course, the train was stopping.
Nowadays doing business at the post office is a piece of cake. If one can find a place to park.