The end for 53542: Hanover post office closing this week

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Gina Duwe
Monday, August 25, 2014

HANOVER--Judy Leindecker will hand stamp the last letter from the 53542 zip code Thursday.

The addresses for residents who have post office boxes in Hanover will change to Orfordville.

And a slice of town of Plymouth history will end when the contracted office of the U.S. Postal Service in the unincorporated community west of Janesville closes Friday.

The closure of the post office tucked inside Town Hall will close at noon Friday with the retirement of Leindecker, who has run the office on a contract for the last 14 years.

The residents who held the 63 post office boxes will receive rural mail delivery handled by the Orfordville Post Office.

“I had a lot of people who said, 'No offense to Orfordville, but I don't want to live in Orfordville. I want to live in Hanover, and you're taking that away from me,'” she said, laughing.

Hanover, population 181, is losing more than a place to buy stamps and pick up mail.

“This is kind of where everybody came to catch up on the news,” Leindecker said.

If sirens went through town the night before, everyone would come in asking what happened.

“Someone would know,” she said.

She's not sure where the coffee klatch will move. The town's only other business—the Ding-A-Ling Supper Club—doesn't open until late afternoon.

Postal services have been available in Hanover for 176 years, starting in a house on Front Street and then at the Hanover general store. When the store closed, services moved to a home on Pleasant Street before moving to the Town Hall.

The Town Hall office was open 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. weekdays, although Leindecker often accommodated General Motors shift workers. On Saturdays, it was open only during the morning hours.

The closing is not because of larger postal service plans, postal service spokesman Sean Hargadon said. Leindecker had tried for years to find someone to take over the contract but was unable to find someone to work the split shift hours.

As a contractor, “you do basically the job of the postmaster,” she said.

After her husband died in 1999, she needed to be around people.

“This was the perfect job for me,” she said. 

Leindecker paid the town $185 a month for her corner of the Town Hall. The town provided heat, air conditioning, lights and snow removal, town Chairman Larry Harding said.

“We always looked at it as sort of a wash,” he said.

The town clerk holds office hours at the Town Hall on Saturday mornings, but aside from town meetings, the hall now will be empty daily.

Harding guesses they'll now cut back on snow plowing and utility costs.

Romance and thriller novels filled the navy blue bookshelf next to the post office boxes where Leindecker had a free book exchange along with 50-cent greeting cards.

“It was kind of a little one-stop shop,” Leindecker said.

The worn wooden table used at town board meetings also served as a garden surplus exchange. Last week, someone brought a plastic bag each of tomatoes and cucumbers for the taking.

A “Free” box on the table offered stacks of crochet patterns from a resident who was “downsizing,” Leindecker said.

Archie Reese was in collecting his mail last week as he has for the last 50 years.

He lives just outside Hanover and used to own and run Hanover Autoparts. He'll still get the same mail delivered to his house, but he was quick to point out what he'll miss. 

“Judy's service,” he said. “Well, she's been here a long time. She takes care of everybody—many people with many problems. She takes care of all the kids in the neighborhood. She's got them all spoiled rotten.”

For years, Leindecker has bought or made Christmas presents for all 72 children in the community and gave them goodies for Valentine's Day, Easter and Halloween. She said she hopes to continue her Christmas tradition.

“I have one granddaughter, but I actually have a whole lot,” she said smiling.

Leindecker doesn't just know everyone's name, she's been to their birthday parties, weddings and funerals.

Will Reese miss his daily trips to see her?

“No, I think we're going to make her set up a coffee shop,” he joked.

“They told me I was going to have to sit on the front steps,” she responded. “With a coffee pot."

Farewell, 53542: A look at the last days of a ZIP code (2:29)

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