In the 1900s, Star Route Mail was transported by bonded non-postal contractors. Star Route mail was mail delivered between towns by these contractors. This would be similar to box trucks you see coming and going at your local post office today.
Ed Spaulding had the Star Route contract between Chester and Weston in the years 1937-1941. From 1941-1955, Ed had the Star Route from Gassetts to Springfield.
Weston to Chester
Ed would be at the Weston Post Office at 7 a.m. to pick up mail. His first stop was the Peaseville/Andover Post Office. This Post Office would close in a couple years. Ed’s next stop was the Chester Post Office located in the Fullerton Hotel. He was now free until 1 p.m. He often went to his home across from Lisai’s Market where he could work on his projects. At 1 p.m., he would meet the train for mail. He then returned to Weston with that mail.
Ed did deliver mail to a few rural residents on the Weston route. One resident was a Mr. Bentley, Snowflake Bentley’s brother.
Also in those days, stores along the route put out a flag which told Ed to stop and pick up a package to deliver to a customer. Ed also picked up passengers at Chester Depot. Some of these passengers were actors at the Weston Playhouse.
Gassetts Star Route
Ed’s daily routine with the Gassetts route went like this. He would be at the Gassetts Post Office at 7 a.m. to pick up the day’s mail. Here he picked up pouches and sacks of mail. There was a Bellows Falls-Rutland truck that brought mail to Gassetts. Most days this would be one or two sacks and a locked pouch.
When the mail was loaded, Ed headed to North Springfield Post Office where he delivered North Springfield mail. Often there was a sack or pouch Ed would pick up and deliver to Springfield Post Office. At Springfield Post Office, Ed unloaded his mail on the platform. He was now free until 11:30 a.m.
At 11:30 a.m., Ed had to be back at the Springfield Post Office and pick up their outgoing mail. He also stopped at the North Springfield Post Office to pick up their sacks and loose mail. A postal letter carrier delivered the mail to individual mailboxes. There was a short section of Route 10 in North Springfield where there was no letter carrier so Ed did deliver to a few homes. Ted Spaulding and I went for a ride retracing his father Ed’s mail routes.
As Ted and I retraced his father’s steps, Ted pointed out the homes his father delivered mail to. There were about six homes along Route 10 where Ed delivered mail.
Returning to Gassetts Post Office around noon, Ed would hand-over his mail from Springfield and North Springfield. The Gassetts Postmaster would accept the mail.
There was a special pouch that Ed picked up in Springfield known as the Alburgh pouch. When Ed delivered his mail to Gassetts at noontime, the postmaster took the Alburgh pouch to Gassetts Station and hung it on the mail-board. This was a pouch that the train would hook onto as they passed Gassetts Station.
Also of interest, huge amounts of cash were shipped to Bellows Falls by train. In Bellows Falls, the cash was picked up and driven to Springfield under police escort. One occasion is worth mentioning that took place in the early 1950s.
Somehow the sack with the cash was missed in Bellows Falls, making a trip to Chester Depot. When the train pulled into the Depot at 1 a.m., the money sack was placed on a four-wheeled cart on the platform, where it was left unguarded overnight. This day Ted was to make the Gassetts to Springfield run for his father.
Ted picked up the mail sacks and money sack at Gassetts Station in his 1948 Chevy pickup. The money sack had been picked up in Chester by the Bellows Falls-Rutland truck and delivered it to Gassetts. As Ted told me it was either $104,000 or $140,000 in the sack. Ted delivered the sack to the Springfield Post Office without incident. The cash was needed by Springfield banks so they could meet Springfield shop payrolls.
The next meeting of the Chester Historical Society is Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. upstairs of Chester Town Hall. Come see our newly restored Town Hall.
This week’s old saying. “He’s not running on all four cylinders.”