“Center of the Community”: For these Central Illinois communities, post offices play critical role

SteveBlog, Slideshow

How post offices continue crucial role in rural areas

Herald & Review: ZIP code 62532 appears in blue numerals on the front of the Elwin post office, a shack-like structure on South Taylor Road with 52 neat P.O. boxes behind a worn front door.

Even though the tiny space — the public area is maybe the size of a freight elevator — is open from 7:15 to 11 a.m. weekdays, it’s an important linchpin in this unincorporated Macon County area south of Decatur.

“I think they really, really appreciate it,” said 40-year resident Kathy Isome. “There’s just something about having a small town post office.”

For far-flung communities and rural areas, these humble government buildings remain an essential communal link in an otherwise distant world of email and social media, a quaint part of the American landscape facing rapid changes from technology and e-commerce.

Here, between picking up stamps and retrieving letters, neighbors interact, swap gossip and share needs. More than that, a post office symbolized a status, literally marking a place as a community, even if the modest buildings are only a few hundred square feet.

“Sometimes you see different neighbors and meet people here,” said Jerry Blackwell as he stood at the Boody post office off state Route 148. Read more.