Post Office Memories

I loved my college years for many reasons. I didn’t have a lot of responsibility, I learned a ton of things, plus I made some of the best friends you could ever imagine.

But one benefit of those four years at Allegheny College which I don’t always appreciate is my familiarity. This came back to me recently when the alumni office reached out to people like me.

The building which housed the campus post office underwent renovations in recent years to become a new alumni center. We recently received an e-mail giving us the opportunity to win the door to the post office box we had in college.

The contest carried no guarantees since many people obviously had the same box number. But I emerged victorious and now own the door to box 2057. I also came away with a second box as a reward because part of the 2057 was damaged.

I find it hard to explain how much this whole process excited me. At first, I felt embarrassed, but then I saw posts on Facebook from college friends expressing similar levels of curiosity about this project.  The shared post office nostalgia made me feel better.

When I told my wife and daughter about this, I began to understand how my college experience may have differed from many others. Maria told me that Millersville had two post offices, each located in a dining hall on the opposite side of campus.

At Allegheny, Cochran Hall, which housed the post office, sat pretty much in the middle of campus. On the small campus, you always stood just a short walk from Cochran and were probably with someone who had to go by “the PO.” Or you hoped to run into someone there. Or you just wanted to see if you got anything in the mail, this being in the late 1980s after all.

When I opened the door which I now have in my hands, I could have found a note telling me to pick up a package from my parents or a flyer about some event on campus I might want to attend. I might even find a handwritten note from a girl. That’s the precursor to text messages, kids.

But the PO served as more than a place to pick up mail. The large entry hall had chairs for relaxing, tables to sit and hang out and, most importantly, a bank window where you could write a check out to cash so you could get $20 to go grab a few beers that night since you didn’t feel like going by the MAC machine.

The upstairs also hosted classrooms and offices for the English department so I spent a bunch of time up there. I sweat through the defense of my senior thesis – Allegheny requires all seniors to complete this requirement – on the upper level of the PO. I also visited friends doing their radio show in the campus radio station studio on the same floor.

When I heard the news that the school planned to change Cochran, I felt a twinge of regret. I understood why they did it and appreciated that they turned such an important building into a special location for alumni, but I selfishly (and foolishly) wanted one of the hubs of my experience to stay the same.

I knew that would never happen so appreciate that I can now keep a piece of that history for myself.

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