Palo Alto Weekly

News - December 19, 2007

Postman makes deliveries special

Beloved mail carrier's last day on route is Dec. 24

by Sue Dremann

For more than 19 years, Ron Silva has been the kind of postman who has put stamps on letters when a sender has forgotten. He's alerted neighbors if a resident has not picked up his or her mail for a few days.

Once, he even stopped to change a woman's flat tire.

But at the end of December, Silva, 43, is moving to Taylor, Texas, 30 miles northeast of Austin. And residents in the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, where he has delivered mail for seven years, said he will be sorely missed.

"I've got him on my cell phone, for God's sake," said Kim Cool, who moved to the neighborhood in late 2001.

The Cools moved out of their home temporarily two years ago when it was being remodeled, but they never had to worry about their mail — or put in a change-of-address form, she said.

Silva called Cool's cell phone to alert her when packages arrived. And if mail became wet, he often dried it on the dashboard of his truck before delivery, she said.

Silva has been a Palo Alto mail carrier for more than 19 years. He grew up in San Leandro and attended high school in Fremont. He lives with his wife and 15-year-old son and 18-year-old stepdaughter in Newark.

But the Bay Area's homes are too pricey for the Silvas, so they have decided to move to Texas where his wife's mother and sister live, he said.

Silva wrote letters announcing his departure to all 276 families on his route. He addressed the envelopes to nearly all of them from memory and signed each letter, he said.

Residents said that's an example of why he is special.

"He so personified what makes a neighborhood. ... He goes out of his way," resident Deborah Baldwin said.

"It's hard to explain. It's the tiny things that make it a community — it's doing that small effort," she continued. "He's been a real delight. He is friendly and pleasant without being invasive."

When a neighbor was gone for a few months, Silva brought her mail to Baldwin's house for safekeeping.

"Another neighbor was ill and didn't pick up her mail for a few days, and he alerted the neighbors so we could check up on her," Baldwin said.

He has also never lost a piece of her mail, even when the wrong address was written on it.

For Silva, a fit, upbeat man who sports a trim, gray-frosted goatee, shorts and Santa hat, it's about selling a service.

"The problem with a lot of retail people these days is they don't give the service. I wanted to be like the carriers I knew years ago. I deliver the mail how I want it delivered for myself," he said.

Silva has cultivated good relations with his customers over time. When he adds a stamp to a letter, he casually mentions the sender's omission later. Residents pay him back when they can, he said.

Silva said that becoming a postal carrier was "a strange opportunity that came along." But it is a job he has found rewarding.

"I'm a people person and I enjoy being outside," he said.

Silva's last day at work will be Dec. 24. Just three days later, the family will move to Texas, where he will once again take up a postal route.

Every day until then, he will don a Santa Claus hat, delivering holiday parcels to the residents who consider him an integral member of their neighborhood.

"On my last day, I expect to be very busy. I'll be saying goodbye and getting hugs," he said.

On Dec. 15, more than a dozen people gathered on the corner of Greer Road and Wildwood Lane to surprise Silva with a champagne send-off. Silva could not drink on the job, but "we drank for him," Baldwin said. They presented Silva with checks and cash to help him with his move and as tokens of their appreciation.

"It's sad to see him go," Baldwin said.

Silva said in all of his years, nothing like this has ever happened to him. As he departed to complete his rounds, Silva summed up his dedication to the residents of Duveneck/St. Francis.

"This postman does ring twice," he said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Marilyn Silva, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 21, 2007 at 6:34 pm

Thank you to all of Ron's customers for giving him a special reason to deliver mail in your neighborhood everyday. He truly enjoys his job and brings home some great stories for us to hear. He was especially touched by the "surprise" party in his honor at the Brew's house! He will really miss every one of his customers and will think about you all while we are living in Texas! You all have his cell phone number, so if you miss him badly - give him a call!
Thanks to the writer for the very special article about my husband!
Marilyn Silva


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