Jack Turner, Mail Carrier

by

Duane Olson

Senior High Division

 

"Hello, is anyone home?" yelled Jack. Its surecold in here he thought. There was no answer so he yelled again, "Isanybody home?"

Faintly a voice came from upstairs, "Yes, will youplease start a fire, I'm too sick to come down."

"Where's your husband?" asked Jack.

"Gone," answered the lady.

Jack started a fire in the large range that was in thehouse. He waited until it burned down to hot coals and then left to finishhis mail route. This is just one example of the many times Jack helped peoplewhile on his route.

Jack Turner was born on July 28, 1889. He was born on afarm near Joe River in St. Vincent Township. Eleven years before this, in1878, his father came and settled along the Joe River. There, he marriedand had three children, two boys and a girl. Shortly after the birth ofthe girl, Jack's father's first wife and his daughter became ill. He tookthem back to Redwing, Minnesota, but she and the baby died there. Then,his father married the woman who was to become Jack's mother.(1)

Jack's boyhood was like that of any other farm boy. This,in 1913, at the age of 24, he was married to Marion (Anne) Kothe. (2)

They had 5 children: Lester, Flora, Gorden, Dale and Ray.In 1966, Lester died of a heart attack.

On December 2, 1918, Jack got a job as a rural mail carrier.The mail would come to Noyes by train and it was then brought over to St.Vincent. Then it was Jack's job to get it to all the people living in therural areas in St. Vincent Township. His route covered 30 miles. He wouldfirst go out as far as the Clow Township line, then double back and go upthe Red River.

He used about every way possible of carrying mail. He wouldsometimes use a horse and buggy; sometimes he would ride horseback; sometimeshe had to walk; and sometimes he used a Model T Ford. During times of flooding,he would take a car to a boat and cross the flooded over lake with a boat.There he would have another car and he would deliver the mail. Sometimes,during floods (1948 and 1950 especially), he would have to go 80 miles tocomplete a 30 mile route. In the winter during the 1930's, 40's, and upinto the 50's, he would sometimes use a snowmobile. It was much differentfrom the snowmobiles today though. It was much bigger, heavier, and builtfor power not speed. With it, Jack could make a track so solid and widethat people could drive their cars on it. (3)

Jack can recall many experiences of when he helped peopleon his route, I mentioned one in my introduction, but it would take a bookto write them all, so I'll just mention a couple of them.

One time during a blizzard when it was blowing quite hard,he went to some people's house in the country. He came into their yard andnoticed a fire up in the chimney. The people had put paper in their stoveand the flames were leaping 6 feet above the chimney; he tied his team ofhorses up to a tree and ran into the house and asked if they had a ladder.

"Yes," they answered.

"Well you had better show me where it is quick,"said Jack.

They got it and by the time they got up to the roof theshingles were on fire. They extinguished the fire with water, but if itwasn't for Jack that whole house probably would have gone up in flames.

Another time at about 5 o'clock in the evening, Jack wason his route and he came into the old train depot in St. Vincent. This depotwas also used as a custom office because at that time St. Vincent was thecounty seat. The depot agent was just closing up. Jack came in and noticedthat the south side of the building was all in flames. What had happenedwas that the agent had put some papers in the stove and they had come upthe chimney and landed on the roof and started part of the roof ablaze.Jack tied his team up and ran into the depot. He told the agent the situationand they went to work to pout out the fire. At the depot, they always hadbarrels of water with salt in it in case of a fire because saltwater wouldn'tfreeze in the cold weather. The fire had burned a hole through the roofand into the attic so Jack got up on the roof and threw the salt water onthe fire. Some people from inside the building had gotten up to the atticfrom the inside and they also helped extinguish the fire, but if it wasn'tfor Jack this whole big depot probably would have burned down.

Jack can also remember two different occasions when hedidn't make it home during a blizzard and he had to stay out with very littleshelter or protection all night.

One of Jack's favorite sports was hunting. He loved tohunt and although he usually carried a gun while on his route he never didany serious hunting then, but he did kill many foxes that wandered too closeto the road while he was on his route.

Jack retired from mail carrier in 1959, making his servicea total of 40 years, 5 months, and 23 days. Through all this time he haskept the old saying, in fact, he might have even the made the old saying:neither rain nor snow nor oncoming night may keep the postman from doinghis duties -- the mail must go through.

(1) Jack Turner, St. Vincent, MN, Interview, January 21,1975

(2) Ibid

Bibliography

Turner, Jack and Marion, St. Vincent, MN, Interviewed,January 21, 1975

 

Turner, Jack and Marion, St. Vincent, MN, Interviewed,January 21, 1975