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December 19, 2008

USA Weekend visits Bethlehem, NC

One of my last visits is with Noah Lail, 85, a community founder who came up with a special Bethlehem postmark. Visitors lined up outside the door at the Bethlehem post office (which Lail helped to establish), and large boxes filled with Christmas cards arrived daily from as far away as Germany, from families who wanted their cards to be postmarked "Bethlehem."

Lail and his tiny staff handled all of this during the holidays, in a kitchen-sized, brick-interior post office where the service window needs to be propped up by a metal rod. Lail helped arrange for the first Habitat for Humanity home in the community in the early 1980s, and he proudly hands me a letter of appreciation that then-President Ronald Reagan sent to him. "We didn't have a post office before, and we needed one here," Lail says. "We had people who couldn't afford to have homes, so we built our first Habitat home and the other ones because the people here needed them."
See full story by Dennis McCafferty in the Dec. 21 issue.