After delivering mail on the same Flossmoor route for 32 years, Dave Schmaedeke is beginning his retirement on Jan. 1. “It has been a good ride, but it is time to do something else,” said Schmaedeke
After delivering mail on the same Flossmoor route for 32 years, Dave Schmaedeke is beginning his retirement on Jan. 1.
“It has been a good ride, but it is time to do something else,” said Schmaedeke, 62. He said he and his wife, Evon, have been married 35 years, raised three sons and are looking forward to traveling.
“We have a trip planned to Arizona to visit friends and enjoy the warmth and maybe visit the Grand Canyon,” he said.
“Dancing is also on our agenda,” said Evon. “We took dancing lessons many years ago and enjoyed going to the Willowbrook Ballroom. But since it burned down we will have to find a new place and now we will have time to do that.”
Schmaedeke grew up in Homewood and began working with the postal service at the suggestion of Norman Kranz, who was the community’s postmaster in Homewood for many years.
“I had grown up with his kids and one day he suggested to me that I should take the Civil Service exam to work in the post office. I took the test and the rest is history.” He said one of Kranz’s daughters now lives on his route in Flossmoor.
Schmaedeke, of Beecher, has a total of 36 years with the postal system, with 32 of those years spent on his route which includes the area in Flossmoor bordered by Dixie Highway on the east, Flossmoor Road on the south and Western Avenue on the west.
On most of his route, he delivers the mail on foot, a total of five to six miles per day, regardless of the weather. His work day keeps him on the street for six hours with another hour at the post office.
“It is my customers who have kept me going,” Schmaedeke said. “They have become like family through the years. I can’t believe how many of them were on my route in the beginning and are still there. I have seen their children grow up and come back to visit with children of their own. They still remember me and will say ‘Hey Dave, it’s great to see you still here.’”
“Even some of the dogs on the route like me,” he said, laughing.
Schmaedeke has many happy memories of his daily route, especially those of children.
“One cold winter day, I rang the bell at a house because I had a package to deliver,” he said. “The door was opened by a toddler who ran out with a big smile to wave to the mailman. However, he was stark naked, not a stitch of clothing. I couldn’t keep from laughing. His horrified mother soon caught up to him.”
Another little boy on his route always called him “the mailbox man,” Schmaedeke said.
Other memories include the times he was able to help people. In one instance, he noticed the mail was piling up at a residence and he called the police department asking them to make a well-being check. Turned out the lady of the house had fallen and needed help.
“It is my interaction with my customers that I have truly enjoyed,” he said.
During the interview with Schmaedeke, a customer of his, Sandi Nelson, stopped by and told him that he will be greatly missed.
“He is the very best,” she said. “He is a part of the family; he has become part of our lives. He will be sorely missed.”
“I am looking forward to retirement,” said Schmaedeke. “This will be a new chapter in my life and I will be doing something, maybe some woodworking which I enjoy, or working part-time. I will stay active.
“I am thankful for the years I have had on the job and what it has provided in my life. But retirement will be good.”
“It will be wonderful to have him home and safe and have time to do things together,” she said.