Nannie Rose Tiller is interviewed by Tammy Caudill

Tammy: Okay, today I am with Nannie Rose Tiller and we're discussing the history of the first post office in Rocky Gap. Okay, Nannie Rose you told me that the post office of Rocky Gap was established January 29, 1866?

Nannie Rose: That's correct.

Tammy: What year were you employed to the post office and when did you retire?

Nannie Rose: I was employed May 1, 1944 and retired October 1, 1981.

Tammy: What kind of work was involved? I know that today work has probably changed as the post office has improved but what kind of work was involved in doing your every day job at the post office?

Nannie Rose: Well, you sort the mail, you sell stamps, and write money orders. You keep a record each day of how much finance you take in and how many stamps you sell, and when I first went to work our salaries was based on the cancellation of stamps. We had to keep account of how many stamps we sold, and later years it was based on your revenue of the stamps you sold, and not the stamps that you canceled. As the years went by your salary was based on how much mail came through. Each year you would have two weeks you had to keep account of all the mail that you handled, and how many boxes went into the post office, how many money orders you sold. Just many different things.

Tammy: Did you have a schedule that you had to put up mail, like a certain time of the day you did this or another thing?

Nannie Rose: Well, that all depended on the time the mail carrier arrived. At first we did have two deliveries a day. We had one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We had routes going out of my office going up Clearfork to Radford, and coming from the Narrows to Rocky Gap, and of course the route to Wytheville to Bluefield was the one that brought in the main mail.

Tammy: Would you say that the work that you had to do in the post office today has increased, there is more work involved, or it has decreased?

Nannie Rose: It has increased in reports. Used to be reports were very minimum now there to the maximum.

Tammy: Do you think that's because the area has improved, there's a lot of people?

Nannie Rose: No, it is government regulations.

Tammy: Before you ever had a post deliver person that delivered mail, how was the mail transported? I know there wasn't always automobiles, was it horse and carriage, how did it get here?

Nannie Rose: Well, in the beginning it was carried either on horse back or with a horse and buggy, and then the mail was brought to Rocky Gap before the Bluefield-Wytheville route was established. It was brought to Rocky Gap by train. They had a little station over there about back where the old bank building stands now and they would just throw the mail off there and some one would pick it up.

Tammy: How many days a week did the post workers work, how many days was it open?

Nannie Rose: Whenever I first started working we were open seven days a week and then they got it back to six. They cut out the Sunday delivery and then on down, later years after the work labor law passed forty hours a week was all I could work, so I got Saturday off.

Tammy: How many days did it usually take for a letter to arrive to someone? Did it take the same as it does today?

Nannie Rose: I don't think it took as long. The mail today, used to be we could mail a letter over here this morning and it could go up Clearfork and be delivered today. The way it is routed now, mail that is delivered over here that is going to Bastian, it goes to Roanoke and is processed and comes back tomorrow. Where we used to have a bag for each post office, say we started in Rocky Gap, there was a bag for Bastian, one for Bland, and one for Wytheville. For the route going up Clearfork there was only one bag that we would put mail in, and say it was going up Cove Creek or Shawver's Mill or Gratton, it was all put in one bag, but the bag was opened at each post office and their mail was taken out and it went on.

Tammy: Did the people have boxes? Like most of us, we have post office boxes now, how was that arranged, how did they get their mail? Because we have keys now, did they just go up to you and tell you they wanted their mail?

Nannie Rose: Where on the routes?

Tammy: Yes, even post office boxes.

Nannie Rose: Post office boxes, when I went to work, we didn't have many boxes. There just wasn't available, but we had what you call general delivery, and it was sorted, an put up alphabetically and people would come in and call for the mail.

Tammy: You just handed the mail when they said their name?

Nannie Rose: Yes.

Tammy: What was your most rememberable experience, good, or bad, working at the post office? Do you have anything you can remember that you'll never forget? Was working there, an experience?

Nannie Rose: Well right off I really just don't know. There was quite a few funny incidents happened and I am sorry I haven't made notes of them. I believe I could of written a book. There was one lady that would come in and she didn't know the combination for her box but she come in and asked me if I would hand her the mail she didn't know the prescription to her box. And then we had two elderly gentlemen that lived in the community that were subscribers to the Roanoke Times and it was one of the biggest disasters if that paper didn't arrive each day. They just didn't think they could live without their paper. I believe that one time I was really scared, this man came in with a stick with a nail in the end of it and he told me he was going to get me. He reached across the counter, he was going to jab me with that stick, and so I immediately reported it to the post office department, and they reported it to the law, and he was picked up and told not to come back to the post office anymore.

Tammy: Just in your own opinion, do you think the post office, does it really help American society, and is it a big part of Americans society, the post office?

Nannie Rose: Oh yes! If there wasn't communications would be, well it just wouldn't be a lot of communications. Back then that was the main way of communicating with people back in the early part of the century because they didn't have televisions, and a lot of them didn't have radios and mail was about the only way of communication.

Tammy: How was the post office, how did you all heat it? Did you have a big potbelly stove, how was it heated?

Nannie Rose: I had a warm morning heater to begin with, and I heated with that, they have electric heat now. They have a lot more equipment today then I had when I was there. They even have air conditioners, I didn't even have a fan for a long time.

Tammy: Is there a bathroom?

Nannie Rose: Oh yes! There wasn't until New Years Eve fifty-eight when we moved in this office over here, we didn't have a bathroom or running water.

Tammy: When do you think the bathroom was first installed?

Nannie Rose: Oh I would say back in the country whenever you had to rent a place anywhere you could get, they had no facilities at all but after the government got to the place that they were more or less in charge of what kind of office you would have then I'd say more of them would have bathrooms.
Tammy: How did the weather affect the post office service?

Nannie Rose: It just delayed the mail delivery, there was very few days that we didn't have delivery.

Tammy: Can you remember, we watched a video in history class about the Sears Catalog, did that affect the way the mail was delivered orders put in?

Nannie Rose: Whenever the catalogs were put out it sure did make it a lot of extra work in the office, and naturally it made the mail much heavier for the carriers to deliver.

Tammy: When do you think zip codes came in affect?

Nannie Rose: Right off the bat I couldn't tell you when they came in, but I do know that they came in after the new U.S. Postal Service was established. It used to be U.S. Post Office and then it was changed to the U.S. Postal Service. I would say that was in the late 60's.

Tammy: Other than the building right across from your house, what other building has the Post Office in Rocky Gap been?

Nannie Rose: It was originally in the old Honaker Store building that was torn down. It was so cold that we moved over into the next building which incidentally is the oldest building in Rocky Gap. It was a store at one time which was down Wolfe Creek in the corner of Honaker's yard. And the building was moved where it is now.

Tammy: And that's the old building, close to the lumber yard?

Nannie Rose: It is right below Stowers'.

Tammy: That white building?

Nannie Rose: Yes.

Tammy: Do you know who was responsible for building this post office across the road and who was responsible for establishing it?

Nannie Rose: Mr. John Lambert.

Tammy: How long was the process in building the post office?

Nannie Rose: Well, I would say two years.

Tammy: I guess that's all I need. Are there any other stories you have humorous, funny, anything like that you would like to tell me?

Nannie Rose: Well we did have the first grade school to come in and visit the post office a couple of times. We enjoyed that and I believe one of our busiest times that we ever had was when UPS went on strike and there was quite a bit of parcels going out of there. We had to go back after supper and work for a couple of hours to get the post office cleaned out so we could have room for the mail when it came in the next day. While I served as post master, I was the state president of our post master organization. I served in about every county of district. I went on to the state and I attended about eleven national conventions from Puerto Rico to New York to California.

Tammy: That' really nice. I would like to thank you for talking with me today and I really appreciate you giving me this information.

Nannie Rose: If I could have studied a little longer, I could have come up with more things.

Tammy: You've helped me a lot. Thank you very much.

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