The RPO memories keep rolling in.
Following the publication of two recent stories, Link is continuing to hear from USPS employees with ties to the Railway Post Offices that were once used to sort mail.
“We’d stop and a train station employee would throw the mailbags on. Sometimes you’d have only minutes to sort the bags before you got to the next stop,” said Virgil Klein, who worked on an RPO that traveled from Louisville, KY, to Chicago in the late 1950s.
Terry Wollitz, a postal support employee in Castle, OK, said his late father, Herm Wollitz, worked on a Burlington, IA-to-Chicago RPO in the late 1950s.
“He took me on a couple of those runs with him when I was young,” Wollitz said. “I would sleep on mail sacks under the work station while they sorted mail.”
The job required clerks to memorize all the town names on their routes.
“I used to help [Dad] study and test at home. I would name the town and he would give the answer,” Wollitz said.
Minneapolis Mailing Requirements Clerk Constance Tellefson said her late father, Earl Kriz, loved his RPO job, even though the schedule was challenging.
“They worked four days on and three days off,” she said. “They didn’t sleep. They just kept sorting the mail.”
Bill Trimble Sr. worked on an RPO that went from Little Rock, AR, to Houston in the 1960s.
He recalled making rookie mistakes when he got the job — like throwing bags off at the wrong stops — but he caught on quickly.
“I can still tell you the ZIP Codes of a lot of surrounding states,” he said.
Trimble gets together with other postal retirees each month to swap memories.
“There’s a secret to working — it’s enjoying your work,” he said.