The idea of a drive-in post office in this Lackawanna County community began as a joke.

One day, workers in the post office were talking about express mail, large mail and the other programs they'd incorporated to improve their services."One guy in here said, `Why not have a drive-up window?"' recalls postmaster Louis Scombordi. "And we figured, `Why not?"'

That was last July. It wasn't until Sept. 19 that it become a reality - and a rarity - on a trial basis.

The postal service headquarters in Washington says there are 21 drive-up windows nationwide, the oldest in Peoria, Ill., since 1957. A recent survey was so well received that a study is underway to create more drive-throughs for the customers' convenience, says Sharon Hamilton, media-relations representative for the postal service.

"On a whole, the concept is a workable concept in a lot of places," she says. "We'll probably see more in the future."

New windows have to be established through local management, added on to existing buildings or built as small, detached units.

"The clearance is what took time," says Archbald postmaster Scombordi.

Renovations were few. For $200, the post office bought a piece of wood for a countertop, a window, a bell and a sign.

With a little imagination - and elbow grease - employees did most of the construction work.

The idea, however, is taking time to catch on in this community of 2,500 households and almost 150 box holders.

The window, averaging only 20 customers daily, handles the same services as inside the lobby, Scombordi says, "except for what can't fit through the window."

Response during the four-month trial period which ends in January will determine whether the post office will drop the service, keep it or possibly expand it, according to Scombordi.

"I'm from the old school," he says, "and I think you shouldn't make a large investment without a trial basis first."

Some of the customers think it's just a matter of time before the innovation takes off.

Bob Speicher, who was glad he didn't have to park and walk for just two stamps, says he thinks the drive-through will be more popular in winter and will especially benefit the elderly and the handicapped.