Things were different when Alfonzo Wilson Jr. began delivering mail in 1958.
The 80-year-old Cleveland letter carrier, who recently celebrated 60 years on the job, didn’t have a delivery vehicle in the beginning and used a city bus to get to his route.
“An employee in a truck would place our mail in brown mailboxes located along the route,” Wilson said. “We would walk all day and then take the bus back to the Post Office when we finished our routes.”
There was also more mail to deliver back then, especially to businesses that received deliveries twice a day.
Wilson — who has no plans on retiring anytime soon — said he was raised to have a strong work ethic.
“The way I was brought up, if you’re blessed to work and able to work, you work,” he said.
Wilson has left an impression on his customers in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood, the route he’s had since 1968.
“I run into people now that I delivered to when they were little kids,” he said. “They always remember the mailman.”
His colleagues have positive memories as well.
Cleveland Postmaster Rose Spraggins was a new letter carrier in 1983 when she met Wilson, her on-the-job trainer.
He had some advice for the rookie: “He said, ‘If you take care of your job, it will take care of you,’” Spraggins recalled.
Wilson has shown that care in more ways than one.
“He has touched thousands of lives by being a role model in the community,” said Spraggins. “He is always willing to support the Postal Service mission with dignity and respect and represent the organization in a positive way.”
Wilson said the reason for his long career is simple.
“I love serving the public,” he said. “I believe the opportunity to serve is its own reward.”