Want to see the smallest post office in the country? Want to see it again? Out in the middle of Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve, it’s just a white and blue fiberboard shed, once used to store fertilizer, now a mini-monument to dependability in the thick of ‘gator country. The 8-foot-by-7-foot edifice, which Postal Life magazine claims is the smallest, may look like an outhouse. But to the 200 families in and around the town of Ochopee, zip code 33943, it’s the Grand Central Station of the Everglades.
The white Eldorado parked outside—the one with the Postal Workers Do It With Zip novelty license plate—belongs to postmaster Evelyn Shealy, 47. She assumed the position 13 years ago. Most of the business, conducted over a yellow Formica tabletop built by Shealy’s husband, Jack, involves canceling stamps for tourists and selling money orders to the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians, who live in the area. Shealy also sells postcards of herself holding her 2-year-old grandson in front of the post office, and she collects pictures of the place that tourists mail to her from all over the world. The most frequent question posed by visitors concerns the location of the toilet. Says Shealy: “It’s the first tree behind the post office.”
Sitting in a hardback chair beside the old nightstand that doubles as a desk, Shealy contends that the only problems with her job are such indigenous creature discomforts as frogs, snakes, mosquitoes and horseflies. Although Shealy buys her own uniforms and pays her own expenses to postal conventions, she says that officials in Washington answer all her requests. “They’ve never shorted us in any way.” And why should they? The U.S. Postal Service rents the tiny building for a mere $25 per month. Last year the revenues were $28,000. Good things, philatelically speaking, come in small packages.