For Thanksgiving, A Mailman Inspires Gratitude

Nov 23, 2017
Originally published on November 23, 2017 8:18 am

Editor's Note: This story comes from a special holiday installment of StoryCorps. It's derived from a recording that comes from The Great Thanksgiving Listen. Every year, StoryCorps asks people to interview each other over the long weekend using their phones. For more information on how to participate, visit Storycorps.

Mike Kochar's grandfather only lasted one day as a mailman.

William Weigal was working as a mail sorter at a local post office when a postman called in sick. That's when he was tapped to fill in.

"And he said, 'Yeah, sure, no problem, I'll deliver the mail today,' thinking that the job was not too tough," his grandson says.

But it was tough.

"He lasted one day as a delivery man before he said, 'I can't do this anymore.' You know, he said that he almost had a heat stroke trying to deliver the mail one day," Kochar says.

That experience shaped how Weigal and his wife treated mailmen from there on out. Kochar recalls his grandparents being "very, very respectful" toward their mailman in Lemoyne, Pa., known affectionately at their house as Bucky the Mailman.

"Whenever Bucky would come to the door, they would invite him in and they would give him, you know, a glass of iced tea and a sandwich," Kochar says.

He remembers one summer day when his grandfather became distraught before they were going to leave the house. He appeared shaky, even a little bit nervous.

"I was like 'Gramps, what are you nervous about?' And he was like, 'Well, I'm afraid that Bucky is going to deliver the mail and we're not going to be here. He won't get his glass of iced tea and his sandwich.'"

Before they left, Weigal poured a glass of iced tea and made a sandwich before depositing both into a cooler, which he left on the porch. Bucky would get his sandwich and his iced tea, even if Weigal wasn't there to give them to him in person.

Kochar's grandparents continued the tradition every day Bucky came to deliver the mail.

When Kochar was at his grandmother's funeral, a gentleman who looked somewhat familiar approached him.

"He said, 'Hey, I'm Bucky the mailman, and I'm here because your grandparents cared about me.' And that's how my grandfather was. Always cared about people."

Produced for Morning Edition by Dan Collison with Michael Garofalo.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK, on this Thanksgiving morning, we have a special installment of StoryCorps. It's a recording that comes from The Great Thanksgiving Listen. Every year, StoryCorps asks people to interview each other over the long weekend using their phones and the StoryCorps app. Mike Kochar teaches eighth grade at Onteora Middle School in Boiceville, N.Y. Mike sat down with another teacher and shared this story about his grandfather, William Weigal.

MIKE KOCHAR: My grandfather for a very brief time worked at the post office. He was just a mail sorter, kind of like a clerk. One day, the postman who delivered the mail called in sick. And he asked my grandfather, he said, Bill, will you deliver the mail today? And he said, yeah, sure, no problem, I'll deliver the mail today, thinking that the job was not too tough.

And needless to say, he lasted one day as a delivery man before he said, I can't do this anymore. You know, he said that he almost had a heat stroke trying to deliver the mail one day. So my grandparents then, you know, because of this experience, were very, very respectful towards their mailman. His name was Bucky, the mailman. Whenever Bucky would come to the door, they would invite him in and they'd give him, you know, a glass of iced tea and a sandwich.

And I can remember being there one summer and we were going to go run an errand or something like that. And my grandfather was all, like, shaky and, you know, a little bit nervous. And I was like, Gramps, what are you nervous about? And he's like, well, I'm afraid that Bucky is going to come to deliver the mail and we're not going to be here. He won't get his glass of iced tea and his sandwich. What did he do?

He got out his cooler and made him his glass of iced tea and his sandwich and put it in a cooler on the porch so that Bucky could have his sandwich and his iced tea even if they weren't there. And they did that, you know, every day when he came to deliver the mail. And when my grandmother passed away, we were at the funeral home and this gentleman came up to us. And I kind of looked at him and he looked somewhat familiar. And I introduced myself.

And he said, hey, I'm Bucky, the mailman, and I'm here because, you know, your grandparents cared about me. And that's how my grandfather was - always cared about people.

INSKEEP: Mike Kochar interviewed by his fellow teacher Denise Multis (ph) using the StoryCorps app on the phone. Their eighth grade students will be recording this weekend as part of StoryCorps' Great Thanksgiving Listen. And if you want to participate and have your conversation archived in the Library of Congress, go to greatlisten.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.