BERNARD – It’s the day after the Fourth of July, a little busier than usual at the Bernard Post Office. An early-afternoon customer is at the counter, where postmaster Linda Musson weighs a package and counts out change.
“Nine dollars and here’s a penny right here. There you go!” says Musson.
“Okay, thank-you,” says the customer.
“You’re welcome. See you later!” Musson cheerily says.
A welcoming presence, Musson will retire after nearly 25 years in Bernard and, previously, six years at the Southwest Harbor Post Office and eight years at the Bass Harbor Post Office.
An open house will be held in her honor at the Bernard branch on Friday, July 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“It starts quiet, and then it isn’t,” Musson says of a typical day.
On the counter is a photo of her installation on the Bernard job, on Nov. 17, 1987.
“A long time ago,” she says with a laugh.
Musson is slim and energetic, and has a warm smile and an easy laugh. She started her postal career as a part-time assistant to Bass Harbor postmaster Connie Macduffie, who used to be Connie Cummings. That was in 1973, she thinks.
In 1981, Musson was hired to work at the Southwest Harbor Post Office, and worked for both postmasters Warren Worcester and Nikki Nixon. Southwest Harbor is a bigger office. They needed a clerk and Musson got more hours. At the time, the office was located on Main Street, where the building has since been used for shops. Eventually, the post office was moved to its current, larger quarters in a brick building on Clark Point Road.
In 1987, Musson was hired to head up the Bernard office, upon the retirement of Hilda Sylvia. The office was then located in the little, tan “offshore shop” in front of Silvia’s home. The current office was built in 1991. As it happens, the building is right in front of Musson’s home.
“I just walk to work,” she says. “Where it’s right close to my home, it’s almost like my second home.”
The Bernard office is small, so it’s a one-person job, with an alternate on Saturday mornings. Over the years, she’s come to know many people in the area.
“Of course, a lot has changed,” she says. “In Southwest Harbor, there have been a lot of new people. It’s growing. Even Bass Harbor has grown. There’re just new people. Which is nice.”
The post office is a central institution in the small community. It’s not just any job, she says.
“These small post offices, you can give your customers a little more service,” she says. “If you’re at a big post office, you don’t have time to chat or help people out.”
In Bass Harbor, the post office used to be on the shore road.
“Back then, people would come, especially the older gentlemen. It used to be every day they’d be out there chatting in the lobby, waiting for the mail,” she says.
Musson has lived in Bernard all her life. Her family is deeply rooted in the area. Her dad was a Sawyer, a family that goes way back. Her mother’s family includes Gotts, a family that goes back even further.
“So both families have been around this area for a long time,” he says. “And I’ve just stayed right here. I’ve traveled a little, but I’ve always lived here.”
Despite the misgivings of many in this brave new era of technology, postal mail will always be here, too, she thinks.
Still, she can attest, people don’t write as many personal letters as they used to.
“It used to be the older generation, they were always writing letters,” she says. “And, of course, a lot of those people have passed away. One lady in here, she wrote postcard upon postcard, which was nice. We don’t do that anymore.”
In retirement, Musson plans to spend more time with her little granddaughters in Southwest Harbor, go canoeing, and other things.
Thinking about the possibilities, her eyes spark.
“I don’t know. It’s like, I can travel to Colorado and see my other son and his family, and I can just do that and not have to worry about coming back,” she says. “It’s funny. The customers here are so nice though. I’ll miss that part.”