The Star Tree: Star Post Office Edition
My first book recounts my childhood in rural Star, Mississippi, and the lessons I learned there. It was an innocent era then–well, unless you consider the mysterious rumors around the goings-on at the old country club and a random seventh-grader swiping his daddy’s cigarettes.
In 2010, the Star Woman’s Club launched a project to preserve the story of our small town. Every year since then, they have commissioned a new Christmas ornament that featured a building from Star’s past. My mom has brought me a new ornament every year, and I anxiously await each year’s selection. The tree gets fuller every year with each succeeding ornament. I always give the new ornament the most prominent position on the tree, so I call this year’s version of the Star tree the Star post office edition.
Need Some Backstory?
For a look at Star from my childhood (circa 1970’s) and how it has changed through the years, read “Star Proper.”
For a background of my Star tree up to this year, read “The Star Tree: An Ornamental Story of a Small Town.”
The ornaments on the tree as of Christmas 2017, in no particular order:
- The old train depot
- Star School (later Rankin Academy)
- Mangum’s Store (better known as “the store”)
- McLaurin Attendance Center (We’re the best, there ain’t no more, we’re the class of ’84!)
- The old Baptist church
- Wesleyanna United Methodist Church
- Star Volunteer Fire Department
- Star Post Office
What’s So Unique About the Star Post Office?
Until 1975, the Star post office was located inside Mangum’s Store. I can remember the old post office and also the excitement with which we welcomed the brand new, stand-alone Star post office. When I think about the “new” post office, I think of three ladies:
- Either Ms. Dora Jean or Ms. Ginger stand behind the counter of the Star post office that I remember. Though my parents have a mailbox on a rural route now, they have always maintained their post office box. During my teenage years, I would occasionally have a package waiting for me at the post office. That’s where I learned the joy that Ms. Dora Jean and Ms. Ginger shared with eager package-picker-uppers like me.
- I also think of my mom when I think of the Star post office. She never worked there but was a kindred spirit to those who did because she ran a rural mail route from the neighboring Florence post office. (Watch the “check’s in the mail” and “snail mail” jokes around her. She took her responsibilities seriously!”)
Not About the Buildings
The ornaments on my tree may depict buildings, but the people in those buildings from my day are the ones I remember because I knew each of them as more than employees.That’s the way it was in Star. I think of Ms. Dora Jean every time I hear the old hymn “This Is My Father’s World,” which I did recently. She taught it to our Sunday school class decades ago, but it stuck. Ms. Ginger still makes the sweetest comments on my family photos on Facebook. Her interest in me and so many other kids who grew up in Star carries on well beyond the years we spent in our small town. I can multiply those stories and memories by every ornament on my tree.
I have heard that the series of ornaments may be coming to an end soon. I hope not. May I politely make my pitch to the Star Woman’s Club to keep the keepsakes coming for a while longer? There are still several other places strongly etched in my memory that I would like to see on my Star Christmas tree.
- We lost Mr. Roland Walker, my Little League coach, this year; I would love to have a “Falcon Field” ornament to bring back memories of him and others who were so formative to my childhood and many other boys from that era.
- My first job was at Paul’s Body Shop out on “the highway” in Star. I would love to have an ornament to commemorate that coming-of-age summer of my life.
- I read a long thread earlier this year of others recounting their summers at the old Star Country Club. Even though I never went there myself, many Star natives recalled specific memories of decades gone by from “the country club.”
- Donna’s #6 Produce, though maybe not in “Star Proper,” has grown from a little fruit stand to a burgeoning attraction along “the highway.” (I’ll be stopping by for some boiled peanuts in the next week or two.)
If you’ve ever lived in Star or visited there, what do remember about life in our small town?
Al Ainsworth is the author of seven books: