Source: The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday,
September 19, 1964
Submitted By: Bea Adams King
RURAL MAIL CARRIER, RETIRING AFTER 39
YEARS, SPEAKS OF EARLY DAYS
By Betty H. Tipton
"in the early days of the Route, it was the police of the State Highway Department to have snow removed by the most economical method possible. That is to allow the sun to melt, it." Willis C. Pettus remarked humorously Tuesday, upon retiring after carrying the United States mail faithfully for 39 years and 3 months.
"After one badly drifting snowstorm only a few miles could be driven by car. The postmaster suggested I ride horseback, instead. An animal was secured and the journey begun. I left the post office with the mail at 8:30 a.m. and returned 11 hours later. Only once, had I dismounted, and that was to let the horse eat his lunch; I was able to crawl out of bed the next morning, but just barely.
The appointment of Willie C. Pettus as Rural Mail Carrier for Route 4 out of Keysville was effective as of August 10, 1925, Tuesday, November 10, 1964, he delivered mail to his last box at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Gee, Church Street, Keysville at twelve-thirty in the afternoon.
"To begin with, I had a 1923 Roadster," he reminisced, "But two months later, I traded for a 1926 Roadster with Jumbo gears, which doubled the power and enabled the car, with the aid of truck chains to pass over the 24 miles of red, clay roads which no other vehicle could travel for days."
During the succeeding years, the rural mail carrier drove 11 more Fords, 6 Chevrolets, and a Pontiac. He wore out 90 odd sets of tires and the best truck chains available. Today his route is 51 miles long.
"Our home is 5 miles from the post office and in traveling the more than 110 miles round trip, approximately 22,000 people, many of whom were school children have ridden with me. During the depression, I would sometimes have as many as ten passengers at once," he said.
"As the route lengthened, the volume of mail has increased. In 1925, there were only 7 subscribers to daily papers and 5 weeklies. At last count, there were 73 dailies to deliver and 95 weeklies. Other mail has increased proportionately.
A member of the Keysville Masonic Lodge No. 154 and the Keysville Chapter No. 40 O.E.S., he has held a lifelong membership in the Drakes Branch Presbyterian Church. He has also belonged to the Rural Letter Carriers Asso. for 39 years. His hobby is raising gladioli.
On June 16, 1928, he married the former Miss Nettie Cunningham of Naruna. They have 2 sons, who are serving in the United States Army. They are W.C. ("Billy") Pettus, who is overseas in Munich, Germany, and James T. ("Jimmie") Pettus, who is stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga.
Mr. Pettus served under 4 postmasters: Mrs. Georgie H. Osborne, now of Richmond, the late J.D. Crawford, W.B. Lyle, and Thomas W. Travis, both of Keysville. Mr. Travis is the present postmaster.
"I expect to enjoy my retirement," Mr. Pettus insisted. "Some of my anticipated activities are taking it easy and turkey hunting. There is a probability that I may take up golf."