As most of you know I walk to the downtown post office about every day that it is open because we have a post office box there and we transact other postal business there even though this newspaper is mailed out of the Mound Road Post Office every Wednesday.
I have to admit that, out of the many thousands of times I’ve been inside the downtown post office, very few of those times have I stopped and looked at the murals that grace the upper portion of the walls. I’ve written stories about the murals and shot photos but I haven’t spent a lot of time over the years appreciating the treasure trove of art that resides above my head and all around that building.
One day last week I was waiting in line at one of the service windows when I saw a woman standing near where the line formed looking all around at the murals. When she finished, I told her to go in front of me because, even though she had wandered away from the line in her fascination with the murals, she was in line before I was there. She thanked me and told me that she worked for the USPS in a nearby community and, apparently, did not realize the art that is present in the downtown post office. The woman told me that she was in Decatur “to get my hair done” and had stopped by the post office to get something checked at the clerk’s window.
I gave her a one-minute history of the murals and she reacted like she had found a rare treasure! She said that, when she got back home, she was going online to find out more history of the Decatur Post Office and the murals. I don’t know the woman’s name, or the town where she lives and works at the post office, but she was a reminder to me that, visitors to our city who go into the downtown post office are very often enthralled by the murals they see above them.
After talking with the woman, I went into my files and dug out the story of the murals that I put together several years ago, and that’s the reason it is featured on pages 4 and 5 of this week’s print and online editions. The downtown post office murals are impressive and we have a lot of incredible places and works to see in our city and, sometimes, it takes a stranger’s fascination with something we have in our community, to remind us of the treasures we see so often that we tend to ignore them.
• PENNY’S RESPONSE — I received quite a few responses to my mention of the late Senator Penny Severns in a reent column. My favorite comment came from Linda Hutton of Decatur who sent me the following note: “Penny Severns was a blessing to us in Decatur. Here’s an anecdote she liked to tell about her early political career: She and Julie Curry were campaigning in the West End when an elderly woman chastised them. ‘You girls should be home having babies.’ Penny protested, ‘But ma’am, neither of us is married.’
“I always enjoyed her sense of humor.”
Thanks for sharing, Linda. I heard a lot of men, and several women, too, express a belief that the senator’s position should have a man representing us. Back when I was a young editor, all the leadership positions in our community and district, were held by men and it was “unthinkable” to many residents that a woman would think she could beat a man in an election or do a better job if she was elected. Obviously, that has changed over the years I’ve written about this community and most of the key positions in our community and district, are held by women.
Penny Severns was definitely on the cutting edge of that change and I know, from the many conversations we had as friends, and the interviews I did as editor, she took a lot of verbal punches because she was a woman, but still moved ahead with determination.
• SO SORRY to learn of the passing Dr. David O. Cooprider, 87, of Decatur, on September 15, 2023. A funeral service was held at Taberna-cle Baptist Church last Saturday. His obituary is on page 20 of this week’s print edition. Our paths crossed many times over the decades. He worked in the office of the Macon-Piatt Regional Office of Education for over 40 years, serving as Regional Superinten-dent for over 25 years. David also taught as an adjunct professor at Richland Community College. After his retirement, he served on the Richland Community College Board of Trustees.
I remember David introducing me as the speaker at the ROMEO (Real Old Men Eating Out) Club several years ago by referring to my mayoral platform, “Treasures of Decatur” and telling the audience that the Decatur Tribune was also a “Treasure of Decatur”. That introduction meant a lot to me and I’ve always appreciated the reference to this newspaper in that way.
My condolences to David’s widow, Nancy, and their family members and friends. It seems we’ve lost a lot of good people in recent years including many personal friendships that started as far back as my childhood. I guess that’s part of growing older —the loss of others who have given meaningful input into our lives. As this newspaper’s editor and publisher, I’m very much aware of the major events in the lives of so many in our community, and from other area communities, including the obituaries we print each week.
• IT’S FALL — Well, we are several days into the autumn season and the leaves are beginning to change color. It seems that, every morning, when I look out my downtown office windows on the fourth floor of the Millikin Court Building, there is a little more color in all of the trees in the west end of Decatur. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year because there is so much beauty that comes with this season.
I also enjoy the little chill in the air and the rustling of leaves — especially when we’ve had some pretty hot days in July and August. The only downside is that this season doesn’t seem to last very long and is followed by some less-than-ideal days during wintertime in Central Illinois. Actually, last winter was one of the better ones with very little snow in Decatur and Central Illinois and I can only remember a day or two when it was icy driving to the office.
• SUPPORT — Ann Irwin, director of Operation Enduring Support, sent me the following message to share with you: “Do you have a loved one serving overseas in the military? Please send us their APO/FPO mailing address as donations are now being accepted for the Christmas Care Packages that will be mailed to our Deployed Military on December 5th. Many of the deployed men and women no longer have access to Post Exchanges. They really appreciate receiving the Christmas packages. These packages represent love gifts from the families back home.
“This is the 20th Christmas Operation Enduring Support has sent Christmas Care Packages with you support. Suggested items include protein bars, cheese and cracker packs, Beef Slim Jims/jerky, individual instant coffee, powdered drink packages, puzzle books and playing cards, personal care items including eye drops, lip balm, 5 blade razors. Small American Flags. Also needed are letters from school and Sunday school children, individually wrapped hard candy, Candy Canes, Gum, Gorilla Tape/Duct Tape, Body wash/shampoo, cotton swabs and alcohol-free wet wipes, 2024 calendars and New Christmas Cards.
“All contacts should be made with Ann Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (217) 428-5936. You may also contact Grace Methodist Church at (217) 429-5374. Donations may be delivered to Grace Methodist Church at 901 N Main St in Decatur, IL 62521 between 8:30 and 4:00 pm Monday thru Thursday until November 16th. Monetary donations are always welcome as our postage is now $21.20 per box. We sent 140 boxes last Christmas. Your support is appreciated.”
Many thanks to Ann, and all who help her for the tremendous work OES has done to brighten the lives of our deployed military personnel for the past 20 years.
• I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. each Thursday morning at 7:00 to discuss the issues of the day on the “City Hall Insider”.
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