Farewell to a Hastings icon
It was a sad day for many when the Hastings Post Shop closed on Friday last week. The Leader reporter Sue Thomas captures the atmosphere of its by-gone days after talking with former employee Judy Fletcher who spent a lifetime working in the post offices at Norsewood, Ormondville, Napier and Hastings.
It was just an ordinary day in 1959 at the Hastings Post Office.
An older customer, donned in hat and gloves chatted to the teller about the success of her latest recipe. An obviously newly engaged couple, stood shyly holding hands, while waiting to buy stamps.
Upstairs the zip was whistling as two tea ladies – in white aprons – set about preparing morning tea for staff; chatting as they poured the strong tea into the sturdy, white cups.
Nearby, a male employee was half sprawled across the billiard table, determined to pot a winning shot.
The room next to the cafeteria housed the library, where a young post office employee, also on her morning-tea break, sat with her head in a book Another employee quietly perused the shelves.
Just at that moment a young lad bounded down the stairs, jumped on his bike and headed off to deliver a telegram. He was among the post office employees who worked upstairs in the telegraph section and whose task it was to bring news – both happy and sad – to families living in Hastings.
Each June brought an influx of motorists climbing the post office stairs to pay their motor registration fees. In those days the fees were [were] not staggered throughout the year as they are today.
But the mostly gentlemen clientele seldom rushed back down the stairs. There was always time to linger and exchange a few words about farming profits and the latest machinery on the market with a friend paying his bill in the next booth.
There was an atmosphere of serenity and friendliness about the place. Everyone knew each other and it was like one big family.
Post office employees were happy in their work and few ever felt pressured on the job.
No one had ever heard of RSI or stress in the work place.
The post office was a focal point of the town. Shoppers met there; it had an identity of its own.
But the years moved on and with them came changes. The upstairs section was closed down; computers and new technology were introduced and redundancies were handed out.
Black Friday last week, was no ordinary day at the Hastings Post Shop.
The remaining staff sold stamps to customers and weighed parcels for the last time.
At 5pm they tidied their desks, took one last look around the office that had been “home” for 40 years
and more for some, and with a tinge of sadness, closed the door behind them.
It was the end of an era but the beginning of a new one for the four staff who have joined the new Books and More (stationery and post office store) situated in the Hastings K Mart.
Photo caption – THE CLOSED Hastings Post Shop, which is now for sale