LONGTIME MEMBER PROFILE: Martindale's Post Office


Pinky Ivarra runs the post office that first opened its doors on Martindale’s Main Street in 1875. The location today, 307 Lockhart St., is still a gathering place for the community, with 485 customers renting post office boxes there. The city’s post office first got electricity in 1947.  (Photo by Sarah Beal) 

By Ed Crowell

Just as they did more than a century ago, this is a place where folks gather to exchange small talk, find out what’s going on around town and see if anything has popped up in their personal cubbyholes. 
In 1947, the fledgling electric cooperative that became Bluebonnet first turned on the lights in the Martindale post office, then just a stone’s throw from the San Marcos River. 
After operating from multiple locations on the city’s Main Street since its 1875 origin, the post offi ce is at 307 Lockhart St. today, complete with a postage meter and a computer for Pinky Ivarra. 
Ivarra has been working for the Postal Service for 22 years, much of the time in charge of Martindale’s mail. One full-time carrier also works out of the post office. 
“It’s a place for neighbors to catch up on gossip with each other. Sometimes they ask me what I’ve heard,” she said. “And I’ll ask them what’s been going round in conversations at the local coffee shop.” 
She knows just about everyone in town and then some on the country roads between San Marcos and Lockhart. There is a rural delivery route but not much home mail service in town, so 485 customers rent boxes at the post office. 
“I’ve memorized all the names and numbers, so I can fill their boxes and then say hello when they come in. We’re a very friendly but growing community. Practically everyone around here knows everybody,” she said. 
The counter where Ivarra sells stamps and weighs packages is open from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. weekdays, and 7 to 9 a.m. Saturdays. Those hours were reduced in late 2012, but the post office was never on the big closings list that the Postal Service proposed (and then mostly rescinded) in 2011. 
Martindale has gained some fame as a location for movies and television shows. The current TV series “Revolution” used some of the town’s old buildings last fall. Ivarra said she met Kevin Costner in the early 1990s when the movie “A Perfect World” was filming. 
Carlton Carl owns a half dozen of the old brick buildings on Main Street, some warehouses and a couple of silos. He’s restoring them with a dream to remake Martindale into something like popular Gruene on the Guadalupe River, where visitors can dine, shop and hear music. 
He is also, of course, a customer of the post office. Twice a day he’s there to check his box or send mail. 
“Pinky is always helpful and provides the best personal service. Plus, it’s a place to get the skinny on what’s going on around here,” he said.
“There’s more community around this post office than in most cities,” said Carl, a Houston native who spent more than 20 years in Washington in a variety of political, governmental and nonprofit positions. He moved to Martindale in 2007 and retains ties to Austin, where he’s been a longtime board member of the foundation that publishes The Texas Observer. 
Although he wants Martindale, population 1,116 in the last census, to develop more businesses to attract people, “our great little post office” suits him just fine. 
This is the first of 12 monthly profiles focusing on some of Bluebonnet’s earliest commercial accounts — businesses that still get their power from the co-op.

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