Another favorite outing was to the post office in Prairie du Chien. Each of us Scheckel kids had a piggy bank. Mine was a metal Malta Dextrose can that was originally a baby food can with a slit on top to drop in the coins. The Malta Dextrose can was fitted with a key attached to the side. We frequently would take our piggy bank out and count the money. Twice a year Dad would take us boys with our piggy banks to make a deposit.
Out of the car we would tumble and climb the many steps to the post office. Postal savings paid 2 percent interest. Each of us had a little booklet with a record of deposits and withdrawals. Of course, the only column we filled was the one for deposits. No need to withdraw any money. Our folks would not allow us to take money out. The whole idea was to establish a habit of savings.
Inside the impressive stone post office building we would troop. One by one, Phillip, Bob and I would take our little piggy bank to the teller who was standing behind steel bars. We handed him our bank and booklet. He would take the money and count it out. He then recorded the amount in the booklet and returned the Malta Dextrose can and booklet. I remember one time my savings for the year was $3.39.
But the biggest adventure at the post office was not depositing our money with the federal government. We wanted to look at the pictures of the criminals wanted for various crimes. Wanted posters were stapled on cork boards all along one wall. We were especially thrilled by the big headline on the top of one poster: “Wanted for Murder.” The poster would display his picture, as well as statistics about birth date, age, crimes committed, method of operation, and reward.
These hombres were really bad dudes. They looked mean and rough, as though they would rather shoot you dead as look at you. No one smiled in these pictures. We tried to find the baddest guy there. They all had a number they were holding with five or six digits. All had a front photo and side photo.
Phillip commented, “Here’s one wanted for three murders.”
“Murder, extortion, kidnapping,” I added. “What is extortion?” I asked Dad.
“It’s when a person takes money that doesn’t belong to him.”
That sounded like robbery to me, but I didn’t pursue the subject any further. <Insert Sketch 19 Wanted posters>
Visiting the Post Office Prairie du Chien, WI was an adventure. The wanted posters held our attention.
Bob found one person wanted for murder, weapons violations, interstate something or other, and the man had been in three different prisons and escaped once or twice.
“Dad,” Bob asked, “why didn’t they keep ’em when they had ’em the first time?”
Dad had no answer for that question.
We would have kept searching those wanted posters for hours if we were allowed. But Dad had us move on. No need for the Scheckel boys to be gawkers, you understand.