Oral Histories: T

Railway Post Office Clerks

Charles Thompson

Mr. Thompson, of Renick, West Virginia, first went to work for the Railway Mail Service in 1954 at the Washington, DC terminal, running between New York and Washington. Eventually, Mr. Thompson transferred to District 2 as a substitute and ran from Washington to Charlotte, Cincinnati, Hamlet, Florence, and Bristol. His first regular job was from Washington to Cincinnati, West District, and he later worked the East District until the run was discontinued in 1968. He also worked on the Highway Post Office, between Washington and Harrisonburg.

Charles Thompson (CT) Interview Transcript

INTERVIEWER: What made you decide to work for the Railway Mail Service?

CT: I guess the main reason was, I need a job. And I must’ve found something somewhere telling me about it, I don’t remember what it was, now.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me about your schedule on the trains? What sort of hours you worked and where you went?

CT: Yes, it was usually 6 on 8 off. Different runs might have had different days off depending on how many hours you had to work.

INTERVIEWER: Did you usually work on day trains, or night trains? Or both?

CT: Both.

INTERVIEWER: Was it hard to get used to that sort of lifestyle?

CT: No, no, I pretty much enjoyed it. I was sorry when they cut ‘em off.

INTERVIEWER: What was your favorite part of the job?

CT: At the time I thought the main thing was to try and get the mail home as quick as you could, the quickest way.

INTERVIEWER: Did you get along very well with the men you worked with?

CT: Yeah, yeah. Always got along good with ‘em.

INTERVIEWER: Great. Was there anything you didn’t like about working for the Railway Mail Service?

CT: I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about it. Being away from home at a week at a time might’ve been one thing.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever run into any danger? Any train wrecks or anything like that?

CT: No wrecks. I think that we might have hit a car or two at different times, or a truck or something. But you couldn’t really feel that back in the train that much. When you’d hear the brakes come on you almost knew you was going to hit something.