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I was in the Bethany, Missouri Post Office today (Jan. 5) and I froze as I walked in because the floor plan and interior is almost identical to Mount Ayr’s post office. There were really only two differences. The second exterior door at Bethany was on the side and the door from the lobby to the clerk’s office was in a different position. The postal boxes were arranged a little differently because of the door position.
The mural was different but it was in the same place as Mount Ayr’s and it even straddled the Postmaster’s door frame the way it does in Mount Ayr. The tile floor, the woodwork, and the typeface on the signs were very similar to the Mount Ayr Post Office.
Construction on Mount Ayr’s Post Office started in the fall of 1939 and dedication services were held August 22, 1940. The structure was built of brick and stone and is sixty feet wide and sixty feet long, two stories.
Rural Free Delivery started in Ringgold County in September 1901 when the Mount Ayr Post Office established Route 1. By July 1904 there were four rural routes. Customers were expected to provide their own mailbox. The rural route carriers usually sold mailboxes.
Rural Free Delivery made rural post offices obsolete. The last rural post offices, at Caledonia and Watterson, closed in 1908 leaving post offices only in incorporated towns. Early rural mail carriers worked seven days a week and used whatever they could to get around including horses, bicycles, motorcycles, and, eventually, cars. Rural roads began getting graveled in 1935.
In April 1954, Leo Laird retired as a Mount Ayr Post Office rural carrier after 43 years. Mount Ayr postal clerk Clarence Hollopeter retired in 1956 after 46 years and Walter Hudson retired in 1962 after 42 years.
In 1959, city mail delivery began in Mount Ayr. But, there were some hoops to jump through first. The U. S. Postal Department required adequate sidewalks, house numbers, and functional mailboxes be in place before they would consent to city delivery. The Mount Ayr Lions Clubs answered that call fulfilling those obligations. Bill Bryan and Wayne McGehee began their delivery routes in November 1959.