BY BILL HOLLAND – The year was 1981. Ronald Reagan was the new President of the United States. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman nominated to the Supreme Court. On the radio, the number-one song was Kool & the Gang singing that we should join their “Celebration.” And Pam Davis-Daniels walked into the historic brick post office at 4325 Gallatin Street for her first day of work.
She stayed for 31 years. She retired on November 30 – much to the chagrin of her many regular customers. To them, Davis-Daniels has been a helping hand, a confidante and a post-office pal for decades. She is the last of the veteran crew to go, folks that so many Hyattsville residents got to know over so many years, such as recent retirees Linda Parker, Laura Woodland and Ajchariya Nubangchang (known to customers as “Indra”).
With the United States Postal Service (USPS) losing money, employees have seen their numbers decrease due to budget cuts. Those who remain find themselves with heavier workloads. Pam, as her customers and coworkers call her, has surely worked her way through hundreds of thousands of letters and packages; more recently, she has also helmed the post office’s passport office, which has grown steadily busier with the influx of immigrant neighbors.
Her departure took longtime resident and business owner Anna Frankle by surprise. “I can’t imagine Pam not being there,” she said. “I know just how valuable she was to me over so many years on a professional level. Also … you knew that she also cared about you personally, not as just another customer walking in the door.”
On November 28, Bob and Sarah Harper led a self-described “geriatric flash mob” of a half-dozen regular customers in a surprise send-off for the departee. They appeared at the post office with balloons and first-class cupcakes from the nearby Shortcake Bakery.
Davis-Daniels’ low-key disposition and whimsical personality – a winning combination – are the reasons she has so many friends in town, says Kay Foster, her colleague behind the counter.
“She’s always even-tempered and she has a wonderful sense of humor. That comes in handy,” says Foster, who has worked alongside her for 4 ½ years in the still-elegant 1935 Colonial Revival brick post office.
Built as a public works project under FDR’s New Deal, it features murals by Eugene Kingman depicting the agricultural heritage of Prince George’s County. The building, across from City Hall, was awarded a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
And on her last day, Mayor Marc Tartaro surprised Pam with her own award: a proclamation of official thanks from the community for her years of dedication and service to thousands of residents. After her lunch break, he delivered the proclamation, which had been framed with a folded U.S. flag that had flown over City Hall.
“I got the keys to the city!” she joked later, with one of her last customers.
Tartaro said he has always been charmed by “her Mona Lisa smile.” She’s so likeable, he added, “that you feel you have to buy the stamps she’s suggested before you leave.”
Davis-Daniels, who is married with a daughter and a stepdaughter, says she plans to move back to Georgia, near her family home outside Waynesboro. She hints she might get into online sales because of the large trove of antiques, collectibles and ephemera she has gathered over the years.