by Dulcy Hooper
Only a few weeks, ago Aldie’s new postmaster stepped in to take over the position when the previous postmaster, Lisa Taylam, moved to a larger headquarters facility. It didn’t take long for her to realize she was exactly where she wanted to be.
“This was the career for me,” says Aldie postmaster Stephanie Sheets. “And I knew it right from the start. The patrons of Aldie remind me all the time that I have big shoes to fill with Lisa gone. And they always tell me how much of a gem Stephanie Whitley, the clerk, is. And, yes, her name is Stephanie, too!”
Sheets had begun her career with the postal service approximately four years ago.
“My aunt, who is a carrier, told me I should apply with USPS,” Sheets said. “And needless to say, I listened to her advice. The rest, as they say, is history.”
The original Aldie post office first came into being in 1881 and was located in a section of Narrowgate. In a write-up of Aldie’s history (www.villageofaldie.com), it was reported that Elizabeth Stover, who served as postmaster during the Civil War, “once spirited a Confederate soldier out of Narrowgate dressed as a woman, during a period when the Union Army controlled Aldie.”
A poster in the window is one of a series sponsored by the Aldie Heritage Association and Aldie Ruritan, highlighting unique buildings and individuals notable in his history of the village three miles east of Middleburg. The poster’s write-up provides other details of a rich history.
“From 1941 through the early 1960s,” it reads, “the Aldie Post Office was one of the regular stops for ‘Highway Post Office Number One,’ a specially-outfitted bus on which postal employees would sort and cancel mail on a daily trip from Harrisonburg to Washington, D.C. The bus dropped the mail bags on the porch of Partlow’s store, as there was no room inside.”
Paying tribute to earlier postmasters and carriers, the poster includes an interesting memory of a mail carrier who had delivered the mail for 49 years before retiring in 1955.
“He recalled starting his route in 1906 on horseback,” the poster goes on, “leaving from the old telephone building, and riding 18 miles each day. Later, he hitched his horse to a two-wheeled dog cart and made his rounds that way, snow depth permitting.”
The Aldie post office serves over 4,000 families, and the mail carriers now are housed out of Sully Station in Centreville. According to Sheets, “About a year or so ago, there was talk about closing down Aldie Post Office. But with all the new construction, I don’t foresee the closing happening any time soon. As long as people continue to use Aldie for their mailing needs, we will be just fine. Did I mention that we have new floral and heart stamps?”
Sheets lives in Maurertown, about an hour’s commute to Aldie.
“When we had the big snow,” she recalled, “our snow plow contractor couldn’t make it to us. So one of the members of the town just went ahead and plowed the parking lot so that we could get into work. Another neighbor pitched in and helped him. There are just a lot of helping hands in this community.”
Sheets clearly is thrilled with her new position, and is making herself known in Aldie.
“During the snow,” she said, “some local people even offered for Stephanie and me to stay with them, an option we were very thankful for….From the moment you clock in to the moment you clock out, you are on the go. I love that.”