John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.
When I started to carry mail, we used to be able to get on a streetcar or bus with our leather pouch and be able to ride free to the starting point on our routes. On mail routes that were not close to bus transportation, we had vehicles to haul our mail in. Some of the mail trucks were like milk trucks where you had to stand while driving the vehicle. Some vehicles were Nash vehicles with no back seats. When we got the Jeeps, I was very happy. Some had a manual choke on them and you could start them in any weather. Later models had automatic chokes. We also had right hand drive 1/2 tons that would be used for mounted sections of mail delivery. Dodge and Chevy trucks were the main vehicles for parcel post delivery. During the Christmas season, they used to borrow U.S. Army vehicles without heaters to help with mail delivery. Our jeeps had either right hand or left hand driving positions. You had to learn to drive both types of vehicles to get a federal license. When we were taking our federal drivers license test, we had to paralel park by the old Chruch of Pompei near the old federal building. Driving the various types of postal vehicles was quite an experience. You quickly found out which ones were good and dependable and which ones were just plain junk. Imagine being in a postal parking lot with a boss yelling at you for not moving your vehicle. I then handed him the gearshift handle which had broken off and asked him how I could drive it with no gearshift lever. He made me drive it using the remaining portion of the lever, which was hard to do.