Johnny Capwell, the smiling mail carrier on Rural Route 1, ended his postal service career Friday afternoon, with the completion of his route.
Capwell went to work for the post office Aug. 16,1954, as a substitute clerk. He advanced to clerk on Oct. 26, 1962, then was appointed Route 1 rural carrier on Jan. 4, 1964. He received 16 years of safe driving awards.
A native of the county, he graduated from Pomeroy High School in 1938, and then drove a Pepsi-Cola delivery truck, until he went into the Navy during World War II. He served in the South Pacific. He was recalled in 1950 because of the Korean conflict, serving in the fleet post office in Yokosuka, Japan. He married Betty Farley on Aug. 20, 1950, just three months before he was called back in the service. He and Betty have three children, all grown—Colleen in Walla Walla, Clark in Uniontown and Kim at Pomeroy. They celebrated their 30th anniversary in August. Capwell said he enjoyed his work as a mail carrier because—like the Pepsi route—it meant he could meet people. Capwell says the rural carriers have had a motto for many years which states "Service with a smile." "I've always believed that was very important," he said, and his customers agree that he has given service with a smile, and much more. He always tried to help his customers as much as possible.
It hasn't always been easy. There have been times when the drifts were bad and he got stuck, but he said there were always people around who knew where he was supposed to be, and came to help out.
Still, he said, the Good Lord helped him many times. "You have to put your faith in the Lord when you're alone in a bad storm." A few times he couldn't get through, but he got home.
The strangest happening he remembers was seeing two of Snodderly's trucks and trailers, laid over on their side from a gust of wind. This happened on the Tucannon, at the first bridge below Blind Grade in the early 1970's. He said he has felt the wind in that corner before, but that day it got the two empty cattle trucks just right.
Capwell has held other jobs through the years. He was also a janitor while he was a substitute clerk, and for a number of years he was finance officer for the school district, as well as rural mail carrier.
He has decided to retire, he said, because there are many other things he wants to do, and life goes quick enough as it is. He says he has many things to do around home, and he will also be helping his father-in-law and mother-in-law, the Ross Farleys.
While Johnny is working around home, his wife Betty will still be working at Ferd Herres Chevrolet, for the time being at least, he said.
Capwell's replacement has not been named, according to Postmaster Bill Young. The postal service did its annual review of rural routes, and selection of a new carrier can not be made until the results are available, probably later this year. Young said some route consolidations are probable.
In the meantime, substitute carrier Barbara Bartels is delivering mail to Route 1 customers.