b"Community HubThe Post Office is your social headquartersBY LINDA BECKMaplewood's mail was dropped off at local general stores, the first being the Crowell familys Clinton Valley General Store (on Valley Street, near to-days Town Hall). Photo courtesy of John Crowell Bausmith Family CollectionT hese days, the trek to the post office andto sift through while socializing and discussing lo- that[s]omeministerscomplainedthatthemen the infamously long, slow line at thecal news and colonial politics. In Alice Morse Earleswouldleavethechurch,andheadforthePost windowaretaskswegenerallyavoid.Stage-Coach and Tavern Days, John Ward Wescott Online shopping allows us to mail giftsdescribed these spots as the headquarters of life and directlytoourfriendswithouttheseaction, the pulsating heart of excitement, enterprise, inconveniences. In the past, however, aand patriotism.trip to send and gather mail wasnt anThe storefront postal center model would be du-inconvenience at all.plicated in the farm towns that sprang up through-Americas first post office wasnt set in a drab in- out the countryside of the new nation. South Or-stitutional building, but rather in the bustling tavernange established its first federal post office in 1841 of Richard Fairbanks on Bostons Long Wharf. Newin a general store (on the block west of old Village York City chose a more abstemious alternative in theHall)ownedbyresidentJohnDurandFreeman. form of a coffee shop. Mail was tossed into barrels orTheUnitedStatesPostalService:AnAmericanHis- Stewart's General Store in Maplewood served as a Post Of-fice from 1879-1916. Photo courtesy of Doug D'Avino, Post baskets or in a pile on a common table for patronstory reveals that it was open even on Sunday, andOffices of New Jersey, A History Told Through Post Cards26/ matters magazine / summer 2020"