As the Government and Unions grapple with the issue of allowances for public service staff in advance of the budget, Tom Wood, author of ‘27 Main Street’ (based in 1972), relates to his late father’s experiences on becoming a telegram boy in Cashel at the age of fifteen in 1937, his progression to postman and his subsequent years of service, much of which was done, come hail, rain or snow, on his bicycle.
“Dicks career as a telegraph messenger started at fifteen, that first ever signing of the wages sheet and the five shillings and six pence for three days work, Thursday to Saturday, meriting a Sunday morning celebration, with rashers on toasted bread, toasted on the range, for breakfast.
“Progression at 17 to a fully-fledged postman saw his weekly wage increase to £1, with a uniform and pair of boots supplied. However, in the event of he being transferred to another location, as did happen, the boots had either to be returned, or payment of five or six shillings made to cover their unexpired value.
“Ever conscious of portraying a good image of the postal service, Dick had now returned from his country round wearing a well-fitted uniform, with pleated trousers and a smart peaked cap. He saw the rural postman not just as someone delivering letters or parcels but also as an intermediary, someone to be trusted. There were those lovely days, when, covering the miles back and forth, the weather obliged; the month of May could be a dream; there was a cooling breeze; a waiting dog licked his hand or wagged his tail in friendship; when the country was beyond an artists brush, and he was the bearer of good news.
“Then those trying times when a bicycle tyre went off with a bang; they had days of solid rain; punishing, cold weather; squalls and biting winds; times when Dick raced the dark clouds, his hands, wrists and fingers stiff, with only the warmth of an open fire part remedy for the cold and he the carrier of distressful happenings. Yet he loved his job and seldom got a dose.”