Before the reforms in the 1980s, the Post Office was an important part of every town. In Warkworth, the Post Office was housed in the building now occupied by Mahurangi Matters and Tailor Made Computers. Harry Best worked there from 1935 to 1956 as telegraphist, and later as supervisor. Around the dinner table he would sometimes regale his family with stories from his work that had tickled his fancy …
The old Warkworth Post Office. Now home to Mahurangi Matters.
Bob Wech, of Puhoi/Bohemian descent, farmed at Pohuehue, south of Warkworth. He and his wife had a large family, and every year or so he would visit the Post Office to register the birth of the latest baby. After he had registered the birth of their twelfth child the clerk behind the counter said to him, “Well Bob, I guess we’ll see you again next year?” “I suppose so,” answered Bob. But no – number 12 was the last of the Bob Wech brood.
George Copestake’s farm fronted onto Pulham Road. George and his wife, Isobel, had six sons before the arrival of a much-desired daughter. Their big, rugby-playing boys were well known around town, so when a letter arrived in the mailroom addressed to The Copey Boys, Up-the-Hill, Warkworth, it didn’t take the staff long to figure out where to send it – particularly as one of the Copey Boys worked at the Post Office.
The mailroom staff had to scratch their heads a bit longer when another strange letter arrived to be sorted. The name of the recipient was written on the envelope, as was the road that he lived on. Under that was a cartoon sketch of an angry cow galloping along with its tail outstretched. A helmeted policeman was holding on to the cow’s tail, and a second policeman was holding on to his coat tails. Eventually the letter found its way to Kaukapakapa.
The staff each put in some money on pay days to cover the cost of morning and afternoon teas. A plump young woman who worked on the telephone exchange didn’t contribute, as she didn’t drink tea. No one could work out why the biscuits were disappearing before the next pay day came around, until a staff member happened to call in one Sunday that Fat Hannah (not her real name) was on duty, and found that she had the biscuit tin beside her and was diligently working her way through the contents.
If a staff member of the Post Office was particularly helpful to one of the locals, that person would sometimes drop off a gift, maybe a chip of strawberries, or chocolates, or produce from their garden. One day Harry rang his wife to ask her could she please have the copper boiling when he arrived home from work. She was mystified until she saw him walking along the road carrying a live crayfish by its antennae – a gift from a Leigh fisherman.
Maureen Young, Warkworth Museum