Frances Heidrich has been employed longer than anyone at the Ceres Post Office – but not for long. Today she is retiring after spending 33-and-a-half years sorting mail, occasional deliveries and working with postal customers the front counter.
When she started the Ceres Post Office was located in what is now the Ceres Library building on Magnolia Street.
“I’m the last one to have worked at the old post office.”Frances Heidrich
“I’m the last one to have worked at the old post office,” said Frances. “I’m the only one that’s worked the whole time (at the new post office) that I can think of.”
Frances was hired in March 1985 after seeing an ad in the Turlock Journal newspaper for postal clerks. She had worked for MedicAlert in Turlock for four years and thought she needed a change.
“I worked a bunch of crappy jobs and then I said, ‘I’m tired of crappy jobs,’” said Frances. “So I read in the paper to sign up to go to work for the post office. So I said, ‘I’m gonna go do that.’ I took the test over at the Sacred Heart Church. I got 100 percent on my test because I studied. Now it’s a lot different. Now when you sign up to work for the post office you’ve got to go on the computer.”
“All the clerks would sort the mail by hand. I was part of that because I was a clerk. We had no computer automation. It’s all technology now. In the earlier days of the Ceres Post Office, everybody delivered mail, the clerks and the carriers. If a carrier called in sick they would send out a clerk on a bicycle to deliver mail. We had a bicycle route. I had to do that.”
In 1988 the Ceres Post Office – which was limited to a cramped space of 5,000 square feet – moved into the 17,400-square-foot building of today on Mitchell Road. Postmaster Ed Lucero was her boss.
She said she had served a number of longtime customers who remember her friendly face at the counter over the past three decades.
“It’s been nice waiting on the customers. A lot of customers come in and say, ‘I’ve seen you here 30 years ago.’”
Heidrich, a native of Manteca now living in Turlock, said she decided to retire at 63 and will be enjoying more time with her five grandchildren.
Postmaster Lee Hoskins and her other coworkers will be celebrating with cake today as she departs.
The Ceres Post Office itself is celebrating its 30th anniversary of the present building.