In the late 1990s, the US Postal Service embarked on a spate of Post Office closings and consolidations. The aim was to save money through greater efficiency.
Opponents quickly pointed out that Post Offices serve community purposes that don't necessarily show up on the bottom line.
Post Offices are where may people cross paths with fellow townspeople. They contribute to a community's sense of belonging. They are also, in may instances, local landmarks.
The protests led the Postal Service to backtrack on some of the possible closings. Among the Post Offices saved was one on the main street (US 1) of Madison, Connecticut.
But now, conditions in the Postal Service are much more desperate. First-class mail volume is dropping. The Postal Service is losing more than $23 million a day, according to a spokesman quoted in The New York Times.
The Times says the Postal Service has identified more than 3,600 locations that have too little workload or that are too close to another Post Office to justify their remaining open. Last month, Congress got the Postal Service to place a moratorium on closings until May, but the process is expected to resume when the moratorium ends.
It's true that Post Offices may have lost both some of their business and some of their social purpose in recent years, as people shifted to e-mail and other options. But the Times article makes clear the importance of Post Offices to tiny communities like Fox, Tilly. Ida, and Prim, Arkansas, not to mention Challenge, California, and Economy, Indiana.
A Post Office can still be key to a community's identity. Especially when other contributors to that identity have dissipated through the years.