Johnny Miller winding up 43 years as rural mail carrier
By Bob Weaver 2013
In the work-a-day world of the 21st Century, according to the US Census Bureau, most Americans frequently change jobs and move.
It is fascinating that we still know a few people who have kept their nose to the stone with a single job, forty years or more.
Rural mail carrier Johnny Miller is one of them, now retiring after 43 years of servicing postal customers on a long country route that extends from Mount Zion to Creston, both of those offices having been closed as part of US Postal's cut-backs.
US Postal has slated more local and regional post offices for cut-backs and closures in 2013.
The Miller family have serviced the route for nearly 70 years, Johnny's dad Lexie Miller having started in 1944. Johnny started on the route in 1967 helping his dad.
When Lexie started in 1944, he delivered part of his route with a car, but many of the roads were unimproved following a creek-bed, and he used a horse and buggy to make the long trip.
"Some days it took from early morning to dark to get it done," Johnny said.
"During the early days we would get groceries and goods for some customers who didn't have transportation or even haul them to the store," but that changed with the tightening of regulations.
"My dad (Lexie) was the greatest for helping people. He thought it was part of the job," Johnny said.
Johnny (shown left) said some customers would sometimes complain, often blaming him for not getting their mail.
"We use to deliver the Parkersburg News daily, and sometimes they wouldn't get their paper out on time to hit the mail," he said, and customers would call his house, asking "Where's my paper?"
"When people wouldn't get their checks, some of them would blame me," he said. "I bet it fell down between the seat," they'd say.
"Really, most of the customers over the years were great, respectful people of that Greatest Generation. It was a big responsibility that required a lot of dedication."
Miller said he learned the routines of people along the route, often stopping to have a chat. He ran on to situations that proved fatal for some of them.
Johnny Miller (left) and his dad, Lexie Miller
each received recognition for years of service
"A well tender Claude Davis always parked at the same spot at the Joker church to walk around Rattlesnake to his wells. "I went by and knew that he should have made his rounds, and then returned to find his truck still there," Johnny said.
"I knew something was wrong, and got some family members to walk around the ridge with me, to find him dead," he said. Another time he ran on to a well-known imbiber who had driven his vehicle in Annamoriah Creek and drowned.
"Johnny," whose real name is Arnold Lee Miller, married Wanda Starcher in 1960 (shown left). They have six sons, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Over the years, most of his sons have lived in the same holler, with many of the locals calling it "Millerville," not far from the Village of Hur.
Johnny says a real turning point in his life was over 30 years ago when he nearly died from drinking alcohol, suffering from alcoholism. "I went into DTs, and the doctor said if I continued to drink I would soon die."
He says finding Christ was an answer to his drinking problem, "The desire to drink and smoke cigarettes left me."
A long-time member of the Apostolic Faith Tabernacle at Cabot Station, he is now the pastor.
While US Postal is cutting thousands of rural post offices, for many rural families in Appalachia, the mail man and the post office has been an important connection to the greater world.
Still, many rural residents look down the road for the mailman to get a letter today.