(Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)
Lucian "Jiggs" Layne, of Monette, was honored in June for his 50 years as a National Rural Letter Carrier. He delivered mail in around the Monette area from 1957 to 2007.
He fondly remembers the years from 1957 to 2007 as he drove the back roads of Craighead County delivering and receiving mail for the U.S. Postal Service.
"Clyde Evans encouraged me to apply for the job of substitute carrier, when Sonny Steele quit in 1957," Layne said. "I talked to the postmaster Gladys Hobgood, in Monette, and she hired me right off the street. I became a regular carrier in 1980."
The Laynes attended the state NRLC conference at the Vada Rose Hotel in Hot Springs in June where Mr. Layne was presented with a 50-year pin and a certificate for his service as letter carrier.
Layne's wife of 58 years, the former Billie Jack Richardson, tells about Mr. Layne's busy lifestyle in the early days of their marriage.
"Jiggs had three jobs - delivering freight to the train (JLC&E), working as a mechanic for Kyle Blankenship's Body Shop, and as a letter carrier," Mrs. Layne said. "He has always been a worker. He would start his route at 7 a.m. and not quit until he got all his mail delivered. He wore out many a truck and car bumping up and down those country roads, in all types of weather."
"In the beginning there were no post office boxes, and everyone got their mail with a route one address," Mr. Layne said. "At first it was very confusing as many people would have the same last name and first initial. After a while, I could tell whom to deliver it to by looking at who sent it. You get to know people in a personal way when you deliver their mail.
"Many people would wait at their mail box to speak to me when I came. They would give me vegetables and fruit from their gardens. I got more vegetables on my route than I did making a garden myself."
"I took stamps and money orders out on the route also," Layne said. "Sometimes people would want to mail a package and not know what the postage would be, so I would take it back to the post office, then come back the next day and collect the money. Rural carriers were post offices on wheels."
Layne worked three major routes out of Monette, Leachville, and Lake City (which also included Bay). He worked under seven postmasters.
"A spokesman at the 100th anniversary of the NRLC organization in 1996 told about picking up groceries or medicine and taking it out to his rural customers, when he delivered their mail," Mrs. Layne said. "The postman was their link to the outside world."
Mrs. Layne had quit an impressive career of her own. She taught in a regular classroom for 35 years and 14 years in adult education, retiring in 1979 just nine months short of the 50 years mark.
The Laynes married in 1949, built their first home on 410 S. Edmonds Avenue in 1950, and have remained there ever since.
"We lived with my parents that first year (Roy and Effie Shultz Richardson)," Mrs. Layne said. "We moved here on April 1, 1950. Our children were born while we lived here, and grew up here. You can imagine how much stuff we have accumulated in all those years."
The JLC&E Railroad track ran on the east side of their home. Mr. Layne would pick up freight from the "Moose" train as it came into the Monette depot downtown and deliver it by truck throughout the area. The freight consisted of a variety of items, from baby chickens, to furniture to farm equipment.
Mr. Layne was born and raised in Evening Shade, in Sharp County, the son of Alvis and Willie Hoaney Layne. He and his wife are the parents of two children, Skip Layne and Cindy Hatch, who both live in Monette. They have four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. To the world they are known as Jiggs and Billie, but to their grandchildren they are Nannie and Pappa.
Mr. Layne was a Boy Scout leader for almost 10 years, and took the Scouts on many camping trips. He served as a Monette city councilman for 10 years, and was an active supporter of all school activities. Despite his hectic schedule, Mr. Layne claims to have always found time to go duck hunting during season.
Due to a recent hip injury, Mr. Layne is homebound now and is quite content to keep up with the news by watching it on television. He remains quite a ball game enthusiast and looks forward to watching teams play from his comfortable easy chair in their spacious home. Mrs. Layne, 80, still mows the large yard at their home.
"I can't mow the yard now myself," Mr. Layne said. "But I can supply Billie with good equipment. She has a nice riding lawnmower and even a weed-eater on wheels. We stay close to home. We are thankful to have our children and grandchildren come here regularly, and especially for holidays and special events. We are most fortunate, and have a lot to be thankful for."
Jiggs Layne, of Monette, received a 50 year award as rural letter carrier. (photo/Nan Snider)
Billie and Jiggs Layne celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1999. (photo provided)