The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Skamokawa to Pillar Rock mail carrier Sharyl Iblings retiring after 28 years

 

March 29, 2018

Lisa Mooers

Sharyl Iblings at her Skamokawa mail sorter with items left to her by Hermina Carroll with her box of rubber bands. Rubber bands are used to secure the mail for each mailbox as it is put in a tray for delivery.

Sharyl Iblings, who serves the rural mail customers from Skamokawa and Grays River-Rosburg Post Offices, will be retiring March 31, 2018 after 28 years. She started as the relief carrier for Hermina Carroll in 1999 and was awarded the USPS Highway Contract Route (HCR) in 1999 when Hermina retired. Hermina left her with a few useful items that Sharyl has continued to use .; a coin cup (a plastic thermos lid/cup), a box that stays on the dash of her mail car that holds the coin cup, stamps, and outgoing letters, BBQ tongs which are used to grab the mail from far-reaching boxes and the Star Route sign. Star Routes transitioned into Highway Contract Routes in the 1970s, yet many carriers continued to use their Star Route signs after the transition.

Sharyl has seen many changes through her years delivering the mail. She shared, "I have worked in the Skamokawa Post Office in three different locations; in the back building behind the store, inside the store (where the beverage counter currently is) and its current location. I remember the Grays River Post Office before it merged with Rosburg. A rep from the postal service came to the Rosburg Community Center because the Grays River residents did not want to lose their town identity. That post office was a side room in the Genes home. Shortly after that meeting, Hull Creek Road was added to the route. Barbara Rose was the Rosburg postmaster and her post office was located in the old Rosburg Store. Then the Grays River–Rosburg Post Office merged and moved into its current building. Barbara Rose was still postmaster and her relief was Gloria. I remember when Covered Bridge Road was added to the route.

"I have worked with quite a few people in my 28 years. Becky Ledtke was my relief carrier for 18 years and then the past few years, Gladys Mace has helped out. I worked with Lou Anne Hedges for 25 years. She was the postmaster relief for Postmasters Sherri Stanley and Libby Whitney before she became postmaster. I worked with Grays River Postmaster Gene and Cindy, Rosburg Postmaster Barbara and Gloria, Postmaster Brad and Angel, Kim, and Christa. After the post office went to four hours a day, I also worked with Tammy and Christa who came back as the Grays River-Rosburg clerk. I also worked with Lori, Helen, and Lisa as Skamokawa relief postmasters. After Skamokawa went to a four-hour office; Lisa came back as a clerk, then Brian, Ashley, Bethany and now Joel."

"When I started, we did not have hand scanners like we have now. All deliveries were done by recording on paper. I started using a hand scanner in 1999 when Hermina retired and I scanned a total of 10 items a day – if that. Now, in 2018, an average day is scanning 60-80 items; mostly packages but it does include various types of accountable mail. I deliver from both post offices to 410 households. My highest count for packages in one day was 172 during the holiday season.

Retired Postmaster Lou Anne Hedges shared a memory of working with Sharyl. "In 2002, when we had all that snow and the post office was still in the store, the UPS driver came in and said the roads were bad and left packages with us, but Sharyl delivered the mail every day. When Becky was scheduled and it was bad driving conditions, Sharyl would change her plans - no matter how important - and deliver the mail. She always put herself in the worst of the weather conditions."

Wendy Blix, Cathlamet Postmaster stated, "She always knows when high tide will be, but once high water came up faster than she expected. For the first time ever she got caught on the 'other side of Grays River' and she could see the Rosburg Post Office. There was nothing I could do to help her. She sat there in her car until 8 p.m., until it was safe to drive through and she finished her route with a flashlight."

The manner to which a Highway Contract Carrier starts their career has not changed much in all these years. The HCR postal division, currently based in Denver, Colorado, announces route contracts for bid. Individuals must first qualify to register their company with the postal service and submit a proposal with details on how they will deliver the mail in all conditions. The HCR division accepts bids, then awards and manages all contracts, not the local post office. The individual submitting the bid, along with their relief carriers, go through a detailed background check.

Frank Faymonville, first contractor on this route, also delivered to Deep River. The Postal Bulletin, dated November 16, 1938 states the route would be expanded to cover "Deep River to Hobokangas Ranch daily except Sunday and holidays on receipt of mail in Skamokawa." Frank delivered the mail for 34 years with the second contractor Hermina Carroll starting as his relief carrier.

By the time Hermina was awarded the contract in 1970, the route covered rural delivery to the Skamokawa, Grays River and Rosburg Post Office addresses. In Hermina's 29 years of service, she had a few relief carriers; Jeanine and Duane Smith, Pat (Cass) Thacker and 1990, Sharyl Iblings. Hermina did not take much time off and her daughter, Evelyn, told her mother she needed to start taking one day off each week, so Sharyl delivered the mail every Thursday and slowly began to work more days as Hermina learned to take more time off.

We all wish Sharyl the best as she transitions into a lifestyle that is not dedicated by the tides, weather, scanner, clock, and the use of rubber bands.

 
 

Reader Comments
(1)

Kathy writes:

Sharyl, Your loyalty to your neighbors and friends, and dedication to delivery of mail in flood waters and power outages, is appreciated and will be missed. Values that will be hard to replace! Wishing you the best in the future where your priorities will change to- what should I grow in the garden this year

 
 
 

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