Crawfordsville postmaster retires

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

Now that 2005 is over, Crawfordsville Postmaster Laura Novak is done too.

Novak, 67, retired Dec. 31, after nearly 30 years with the U.S. Postal Service, the last 12 as postmaster at Crawfordsville.

She arrived in Crawfordsville on Nov. 13, 1993 from Tangent, where she had started with the Post Office as a substitute rural carrier in 1976. She became a clerk later that year, a job she held for 18 years. In 1992, she became officer in charge (temporary postmaster) in Tangent before she was appointed postmaster at Crawfordsville.

When she took over, the Post Office was in the Crawfordsville Market, in a cramped room about 60 square feet in size, she said.

“At Christmas packages were stacked to the ceiling,” she recalled.

The current Crawfordsville Post Office, about 10 times larger, opened on Oct. 1, 1997, giving her a lot more elbow room. It added 92 new post office boxes, bringing the total to 196.

A lot of things have changed since Novak joined the USPS, she said.

“Everything’s going computer,” she observed. “That’s a very good change for the Postal Service, but for us old folks, keeping up with the acronyms and terminology is difficult — especially because we don’t use them much in a small office like this one.”

Now that she’s retiring, Novak, who lives in Albany, said she’s going to have to find some things to keep her busy.

“I’m going to reach over and slap off the alarm,” she joked. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I know I can’t just sit there — I have to do something. There’s plenty of volunteer stuff to do out there. I just need to find a niche.”

She plans to visit her three grandchildren, who live in Florida, in February. She also has a daughter in Salem and a son in Albany.

She said she particularly enjoys working with children or with older adults. Plus, she may get back into knitting and sewing, which, she said, he used to do a lot.

She also reads a lot, particularly mysteries.

“I also plan to watch a lot of CSI,” she chuckled.

She said she’s looking forward to retiring, but she’s “saddened in a way.”

“I’ve met a lot of nice people,” she said. She told of one woman who, when she heard Novak was leaving, wanted to give her a hug (frowned upon in Postal Service regulations, Novak said).

“Well, I leaned over the counter and gave her a hug and we both started crying,” Novak said.

She said she’s leaving a lot of memories from her time in Crawfordsville and Tangent.

“I’ve told people I should make some notes and write a book,” she said. “You get a different spin on things because you’re in a position where people talk to you. I’ve never really understood why they bare their souls to us. Maybe they know it’ll never go farther.”

Novak is being replaced temporarily by Susan Prager, of the Woodburn Post Office, as OIC until a permanent postmaster is appointed. There is not indication how long that will take, Prager and Novak said.

It’s been an interesting job, Novak said.

“I’ve learned a lot about people and I’ve learned a lot about myself,” she said. “One of the greatest things you learn in a job like this is interaction with other people. If you make eye contact, it’s amazing what a smile will do. I haven’t met too many really crabby people.

“It’s mostly been very enjoyable. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”