DAISY — Mayor Junior Brown and his “first lady” remain willing to go up against the U.S. Postal Service to protect what they see as a bastion of their town’s identity.
Daisy, population 129 according to the 2010 U.S. Census or 137 by the mayor’s count, has only one private business, an auto body shop. Founded in 1890 as a railroad depot, Daisy preserves a caboose in a little park beside the tracks, but trains no longer stop here.
So after the Postal Service listed Daisy’s post office in April as one of more than 3,600 offices and outlets eyed for closure nationwide, Brown and his wife Carolyn, the city clerk, wrote letters to members of Congress. The Browns, who have recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, also organized a campaign to have people in and around Daisy display big blue bows on homes and trees to show support for keeping the post office.
Both grew up in Daisy. Inman Brown Jr. — folks call him “Junior” — is 69 and has been mayor 12 years after 16 as a Daisy City Council member.
Statesboro Herald: What makes Daisy special?
Mayor Brown: “It’s quiet; have you noticed that? It’s a quiet little town. We don’t have many problems. We don’t have law enforcement, but we don’t need any. Everybody’s a good neighbor.”
Daisy is covered by the Evans County Sheriff’s Office, but has no police of its own. The mayor was sitting near his wife — he sometimes calls her Daisy’s first lady — on the rear patio of their home. A neighbor brought Mrs. Brown a water payment.
The city of Daisy does not keep an office open, so the Browns receive water payments at home when residents don’t mail them to the city’s P.O. box.
It’s one of 252 rental boxes at the post office, which does not provide home delivery. The city owns the building and rents space to the Postal Service for less than $300 per month.
S.H.: What does the post office mean to Daisy?
Brown: “It’s just a vital part of the community. I know a lot of little towns that have lost their post office, and they seem to dry up. You don’t see any activity around them. … If you lose your post office, you lose your identity.”
S.H.: The post office is in one of three buildings the city has rehabilitated during your tenure. You’ve also made extensive improvements to the water system. Other than grants, how does a city of under 200 pay for these things?
Brown: “We’ve cooked a lot of hamburgers and barbecued a lot of chickens in this town for things like the Fire Department.”
S.H.: Besides holding monthly council meetings, what do you do as mayor?
Brown: “I read water meters. I repair all leaks. I catch the devil about all complaints. I have the bad job of cutting them off when they don’t pay. I take care of the water system, do the water sampling.”
S.H.: Would losing the post office affect your city government?
Brown: “It’s just vital, you know? I don’t know how we’ll operate the little town without the post office. We can’t put a mailbox out there and have people put $50 cash in it, you know? It’s not a secure thing anymore.”
S.H.: How many blue bows have been put up?
Brown: “Nearly 100. We have a few left. We’ve got some that have ribbons up on their place that don’t have a post office box in Daisy; they’ve got a mailbox.”
S.H.: What has been the community’s response to your efforts?
Brown: “We don’t go anywhere that we’re not asked about the post office. We’ve had other communities calling us wanting to know what they can do.”
S.H.: Daisy now has a Facebook page. Could an electronic, social media presence replace having a post office?
Brown: “No, no, I don’t think anything could replace our post office. I just can’t imagine having a town without a post office. I think any city government, a city with a government, should have a post office.”
S.H.: What will you do if a closing date is announced?
Brown: “We’re going to appeal it, and we’ve got some good ideas about what we’re going to use. … There’s the Freedom of Information Act, and I know they don’t want to give out information to us about any kind of correspondence and anything said about the Daisy post office.”
For their golden anniversary, the Browns recently took a trip to the West Coast. Among other places, they visited Bridal Veil, Ore., dropping by its post office. Although Bridal Veil is considered a ghost town, the demand for its postmark on wedding invitations helps keep the post office open.
The Browns believe that their town could benefit favorably from comparison with Bridal Veil, because Daisy’s post office still serves a local population.
S.H.: There has been no official word from Washington. Does anything give you hope that the post office will stay open?
Brown: “I notice they’ve put a sign on the front door that says, ‘We ship for the holidays.’ So it looks to me like they plan to be open through the end of the year, or Christmas at least.”