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She's Going Postal Over Her Senior Project

It has been an exciting summer for Towanda High School senior Danielle Salsman. In June, as her junior year was coming to an end, she was back in school after briefly dropping out. She may have been back on track to graduate at the end of the next school year, but for one thing—the required and approved senior project needed to graduate.

Now, as summer nears its end, Danielle not only is just about finished with her senior project, but she will be directly in the limelight next week because of it. She will be presiding over the Wysox Post Office Bicentennial, and she will have hours of work and research to show off when she does it next Wednesday, Aug. 25. Not only does this senior project include the community service component, but it will, in many ways, re-educate the residents of that part of the county regarding an important element of local history.

"I'm really excited now that we're getting close, and a little nervous, too," says Danielle, who will provide the opening and closing remarks at a noon program. The program and accompanying open house will spotlight her research on the history of the U.S. Postal Service, going back to the first Postmaster General Benjamin Franklin. Perhaps more intriguing is what she has learned about the Wysox Post Office on this special year.

The Wysox Post Office goes back 200 years to 1804 and its first Postmaster Burr Rigway. Using the Towanda Library as the reference center for most of her research, Danielle has learned a lot about the U.S. Postal Service, the Wysox Post Office and local history.

With guidance from her project mentor, Penny Brown, clerk at the Wysox Post Office and assistant to Postmaster Penny Horton, Danielle has been able to combine history, art and a dose of marketing in an exhibit that will be featured at Wednesday's open house. She has already performed a key element of her project, serving as "Postmaster for a Day" in Wysox.

"I learned there are a lot of responsibilities," says Danielle of her stint as postmaster. "There is definitely a lot more to it that selling stamps."

It started with a request by the Wysox Post Office to the Towanda Area High School for someone who might be interested in working on a Senior Project that would help them do something special to observe their bicentennial. Apparently the request was circulated on a bulletin to senior homerooms and a teacher, thought of Danielle, who was still in need of a senior project. Sensing it was the right thing for her to do, Danielle followed through and has never regretted doing so.

The current Post Office, next to Arey's Lumber on the Golden Mile, was built in 1961. In years past, it has been at other locations. The earlier was nearby, in the vicinity of where Benjamin's Garage now stands. She can tell you that Wysox comes from the Indian word, Wisachgimi, which means "Valley of Grapes." In the early 1800's when that first Post Office came to Wysox, the community was known as Little Baltimore and, on the other side of the river stood Meansville, now known as Towanda.

Wysox was actually in line to be the county seat, not Towanda, but politics being what it is, that didn't happen. Not only does she have a complete chronology of the postmasters who have served Wysox over the past 20 years, but she was fascinated by another postmaster from another community not so far away, Standing Stone, who was a postmaster for more than four decades, serving from 1875-1889 and again in 1901-1929. You could say her relationship with the post office and Penny Brown became more than just a project.

The actual open house next Wednesday at the Wysox Post Office runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aside from Danielle's remarks and the display of her work and research, Towanda American Legion Post 42 will be there for the flag ceremony and Pledge of Allegiance; Adriana Altieri will sing the Star Spangled Banner, and there will be a keynote speaker and introduction of guests and dignitaries by Postmaster Horton.

Penny Brown will do a presentation on three of the current charitable stamps, featuring those honoring breast cancer survivors, the "Heroes" stamp and the "End the Violence" stamp targeting domestic violence. There will be local representatives for all of them, including Alma Josbena, a long-time breast cancer survivor, local heroes from emergency services and, relating to domestic violence, someone from the Abuse and Rape Crisis Center.

The program will recognize former living postmasters Sandra VanDerlyke and Jerome O'Keefe, as well as former Wysox clerks Phyllis Sparbanie, Janet Schmeckenbecker, Miriam Hale, Beth Mulcahy and Flora Weiskop.

"I am proud of the job Danielle has done," says her mentor, Penny Brown, "and I think it's great to accent some positive things about our youth for a change."

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