CAMP MEEKER — The tiny public alcove at the local post office was crammed with people Tuesday — folks packed in tight but still chatty, smiling and glad to be home.
After a six-month displacement from the humble trailer that for two decades has served as post office and community center for the forested hamlet of about 425, the public was welcomed back Tuesday with a pledge that discussions about closing the post office for good had been abandoned.
But the restoration of operations comes with a trade-off: At some point next year, service hours will be halved.
Camp Meeker Post Office
Cost-cutting remains the only feasible way to keep the doors open in an age of budget reductions, postal service spokesman James Wigdel said.
“I would say some time early in 2014, but we don't have an exact date for that yet,” he said.
But for the 30 or so people who braved a cold, damp morning to mark the reopening Tuesday, what seemed important was that the post office was reopened again.
“It's kind of been a struggle,” said Lynn Watson, who serves on the five-member Camp Meeker Recreation and Park District board. “I'm happy for today.”
“Our village doesn't have anything else besides this post office,” said Katy Henriksen. “We take pride in our post office.”
Residents describe the corrugated metal trailer at the edge of an asphalt lane off Bohemian Highway as the heart and soul of their remote community, located in the shade of redwoods about two miles from Occidental.
Decades after the loss of such fixtures as a bowling alley, a dance hall and the permanent post office that now lies in decay, it remains the community hub — a place to greet friends, trade news and, yet, pick up the mail.
A bank of vintage post office boxes that once had combination dials include a broken one that former postal clerk Val Larson stocked with stickers and sometimes candy for local children.