MCT REGIONAL NEWS
By Michelle Wolford
The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.
Dec. 30--BRETZ -- A sign on the wall tells the story.
The Bretz post office, an institution that goes back more than 100 years here, "will officially suspend business on Dec. 31 at noon."
The post office, first opened in February 1904 in a company store, no longer has post office boxes for its 94 box holders. Those were removed Tuesday. For now, customers can pick up their mail at the window, but after Friday, their mail will be in Masontown -- about a half-mile away.
Nancy LaRue, Bretz's postmaster, posed for photos with customers Wednesday. She and co-worker Linda Rager moved their Customer Appreciation Day from May to Wednesday so they could say goodbye to their loyal customers.
Rager, postmaster relief for LaRue, will transfer to Masontown. LaRue will move to the Bayard post office in Grant County.
Rita McCrobie and Glenna Burge stopped by Wednesday morning to pick up their mail. Neither is happy to see the post office close. McCrobie said she called Rep. Alan Mollohan's office about the closing, and while the response was friendly, there were no immediate results.
"We feel the people weren't given enough time," she said. "It's customary to give 90 days' notice. I feel like they could have been more accommodating."
LaRue said customers were notified Dec. 10.
As more customers entered the post office Wednesday, LaRue pulled out an album of newspaper clippings about the town's rich history. Included was information about the Bretz coke ovens that closed in the 1981, according to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, and were once the area's largest employer. The ovens are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Another clipping tells of Oak Park, an amusement park located here. Built in the early 1900s, it drew crowds to the area.
Louis DuPont is 90. LaRue said he is her oldest customer and walks to the post office "even during a blizzard" to pick up his mail.
DuPont said he remembers riding the roller coaster and merry-go-round at Oak Park in 1927.
"It was a big deal for me," he said. "People came from all over. They used to run excursion trains here. It was the largest recreation center this side of the Mississippi at the time."
DuPont said he thought the park closed after the Great Depression hit the area.