The Ponce Inlet Historical Museum at 143 Beach St. in Ponce Inlet is planning an event with July’s National Postal Worker Day to honor two early postmistresses, Elizabeth Hasty and Ellen Mary Meyer, and the first mailman, Sam Holmes, in what was known as Ponce Park.
The free event be July 27 at the museum, which consists of two Florida Cracker-style houses, the Meyer Davis House and the Hasty Cottage/Post Office. The post office, the last post office in Ponce Park (today known as the Town of Ponce Inlet), is on the National Register of Historic Places. Along with the Meyer Davis House, the structures and the memorabilia on display offer a window into the colorful history of the area.
National Postal Worker Day is officially observed each July 1. It originated in 1997 to celebrate the hard work of nearly half million postal worker across the U.S., delivering mail in all kinds of weather. Rural mail carriers were a vital link between frontier towns and the residents living on the outskirts of civilization.
Ms. Hasty, an early Ponce Park settler and teacher, was the first postmistress there. Postal service started in Ponce Park in 1884, originally delivered by boat and distributed through various homes and businesses, probably starting with Bartola Pacetti’s Hotel, also called the Pacetti Boarding House, according to Amy Zengotita, Ponce Inlet's cultural services manager. But the Hasty Cottage wasn’t officially used as the post office until 1943 when Ms. Meyer took over as postmistress. Her daughter, Gladys Meyer Davis, is a life-long resident of Ponce Inlet and was born at the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Ms. Meyer’s husband, Edward Meyer, was the last civilian lighthouse keeper.
“Sam the Mailman” Holmes delivered mail to almost three generations of families starting in the early 1950s. He retired in late 1983. According to his daughter, Terry Cain Tyler, he knew everyone on his route. When he died, a sympathy card from one postal patron, Evelyn Carter, stated to Ms. Tyler that once, as he was delivering a voter registration card to her husband, he noticed they shared the same birthday. Ms. Carter said they became fast friends. Gladys Davis and her daughter, Julie, now live at the former Carter home.
Mr. Holmes postal route originally ran from Ponce Inlet north on State Road A1A to what was then known as the Neptune Theater (now a drive-in church) in Daytona Beach Shores. A1A would be closed for NASCAR races back when the races took place on the beach. Ms. Tyler would say, “Neither rain nor sleet nor NASCAR will stop Sam the Mailman from doing his route.”
Once, during his many years delivering the mail, Mr. Holmes was called in to the postmaster’s office regarding a disciplinary action. Apparently, Ms. Tyler said a postal patron complained the “blankety-blank” mail truck spent two hours at Inlet Harbor Restaurant, and she was waiting for the timely delivery of her Social Security check. Upon review, it turned out Mr. Holmes was helping rescue a drowning child from the water that day, so he received a heroism award instead of disciplinary action.
Carol Jerson, Ponce Inlet Historical Museum Coordinator, will reveal a new children’s exhibit on July 27 at the Ponce Inlet Historical Museum event. Ms. Jerson said she has been working with the Seattle Children’s Postal Museum, trying to incorporate some of what they do with elementary school-age children. She said the Seattle Museum uses STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as a hands-on practice with parental supervision.
At the Ponce Museum event, children will read a story, “It Came in the Mail,” and design their own postcards and messenger bags. She added that children can then use the messenger bags for school totes.
The event will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. (from 10 a.m. to noon for the children's crafts). Ms. Jerson asked that people planning to bring their elementary school-aged children RSVP her, so she will have enough craft supplies on hand for every child.
“Postmistresses (and mailmen) were unsung heroes,” Ms. Jerson said. “We forget about people who perform services that we take for granted.”
Those interested in celebrating Postal Worker Day, visiting Ponce Park’s last post office, and bringing the family to see the new children’s exhibit can get more information by calling the museum office at (386) 761-2408 or emailing Ms. Jerson at email@example.com.