Drawing to an end

Man holding a drawn cartoon.

Earl Musick has just about done it all.

Since joining the Postal Service as a retail associate in 1987, Musick has held several jobs, including serving as a letter carrier, a Postmaster, an engagement ambassador and an Eastern Area human resources specialist, his current position.

He probably is best known, though, for his role as a USPS cartoonist.

Musick has drawn illustrations for many local and national postal publications through the years, including the Engage Weekly newsletter and an annual coloring page that employees hand out to children at Post Offices across the nation during the holidays.

Now, after 33 years, Musick plans to retire at the end of May to pursue a full-time career in media and entertainment.

“The Postal Service has allowed me to chase my dreams. It has been wonderful to me, provided me with a steady paycheck and helped me to raise my two kids,” he said. “It’s the best job in the world.”

Musick has been drawing most of his life, inspired by childhood heroes like “Beetle Bailey” cartoonist Mort Walker and “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, who Musick eventually met and counted as a friend and mentor.

“We talked over the phone often and would see each other once or twice a year and exchange letters through the mail,” Musick said. “He was really good to me.”

Through his membership in the National Cartoonists Society, Musick has also gotten to know other cartoonists.

“It’s a great group. We share tips with one another,” he said.

When he is off the clock from USPS, Musick works as a freelance artist. He recently designed the cover for “Retirement: Twice the Time, Half the Money,” a book by Gene Perret, an Emmy-winning comedy writer for Bob Hope, Carol Burnett and others.

It’s not uncommon for Musick’s other clients — which have included the FBI, ABC television and the Walt Disney Co. — to call him with a late-night, last-minute request.

“They’ll say, ‘We need a drawing of an elephant dancing.’ So you do it,” he said.

Musick also works as a motivational speaker and stand-up comic, entertaining audiences at state and county fairs, corporate meetings and other venues. His comedy routines are “clean,” he said, reflecting his Christian faith.

For his final drawing projects for the Postal Service, Musick created a coloring page to honor the letter carriers who are continuing to deliver mail and packages during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as an Engage Weekly illustration that depicts the variety of postal workers who are stepping up to the plate during the health crisis.

Mark Wahl, an organizational development analyst at USPS headquarters who previously worked with Musick in Eastern Area, praised his drawings and his ability to connect with people.

“Earl has that gift to find someone in an audience that needs a hug or a smile,” Wahl said, adding that Musick is his “Q10,” a shorthand term for an employee’s best friend in the workplace. “He was my Q10 at work, and now he’s my Q10 outside of work.”

In his post-postal life, Musick plans to spend more time with his family, including his wife, Debbie, and their sons and daughters-in-law: Matt and Miranda, and Mark and Meghan.

Musick lives in Ohio and plans to stay there, noting that he can work on comedy and cartoons anywhere.

“I’m not trying to be famous,” he said. “I’m just trying to make them laugh.”

Literary leader

Anne Spencer was a poet whose use of imagery to evoke nature, gardening, religion and mythology made her a leading writer in the Harlem Renaissance arts movement.

Spencer (1882-1975) is one of four African American literary figures who’ll be featured on Voices of the Harlem Renaissance, a stamp pane that USPS will release this week.

Spencer was born in Virginia and raised in West Virginia. She received no formal schooling until age 11 when her mother enrolled her in the Virginia Seminary, a school for African Americans, where she excelled.

After graduating in 1899, she became a schoolteacher and moved to Lynchburg, VA, where her husband, Edward, built a home that allowed her to focus on her family, gardening and her love of writing.

The house later became a haven for African American writers, intellectuals, artists and activists, serving as a symbol of cultural life outside of New York City.

Spencer came to prominence as a poet after NAACP field secretary and writer James Weldon Johnson visited her home to discuss establishing a local chapter. After reading “Before the Feast at Shushan,” a poem she wrote based on the Book of Esther in the Old Testament, Johnson included it in The Crisis, the NAACP magazine, in 1920.

Two years later, Johnson also included five of Spencer’s poems in “The Book of American Negro Poetry.”

Historian Alain Locke, who also appears on the Voices of Harlem Renaissance stamp pane, included another Spencer poem in a special 1925 issue of the Survey Graphic magazine that was devoted to African American culture. The issue became one of the most important publications of the Harlem Renaissance.

Altogether, Spencer published about 30 poems.

Throughout her life, Spencer was controversial in Lynchburg for her opposition to segregation and for her activism. She boycotted segregated transportation and campaigned for the employment of black teachers in a high school for African American students.

Spencer was 93 when she died.

Today, the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum is a Virginia landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

This is the final profile of the African American literary figures who’ll be featured on the Voices of the Harlem Renaissance stamps.

From the heart

Drawings of hearts and rainbows from grateful customers highlight the latest Thank You for the Thank-You’s video featuring supportive messages for Postal Service employees working during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In these hard times, you refuse to surrender” reads a message left for a letter carrier by a youngster.

The 30-second video — the sixth installment in a series — also features a colorful rainbow drawn in chalk on pavement with a customer’s message that reads: “Thank you for working in these tough times.”

USPS has shared this video and the first five in the series on its social media channels.

In good form

USPS tractor trailer truck.

The Postal Service has introduced PS 4584-T, a form that managers and supervisors can use to help tractor-trailer operators improve their driving behavior and safety.

The form can be accessed on USPS-issued mobile devices through the Informed Mobility Safety Observation Tool (IMSOT).

PS 4584-T is specifically designed for tractor-trailer drivers, who have requirements different from operators of other postal vehicles.

Managers and supervisors can use a desktop computer to enter data from paper PS 4584-T forms into the lMSOT online dashboard. They can also go to the Blue home page, type IMSOT into the URL bar and be taken directly to the tool’s dashboard.

Alternatively, managers and supervisors can use the IMSOT icon on their mobile devices to access the application and enter the data.

IMSOT, which the Postal Service introduced last summer, automates the employee safety observation process for managers and supervisors.

For IMSOT technical assistance, call the USPS Help Desk at 800-877-7435 and say “IMSOT” when prompted.

News Briefs

Scanning snapshot

Scanning snapshot. The Postal Service’s national scanning rating was 97.01 percent, up from 96.75 percent one week earlier.

Western led the seven areas with a rating of 97.62 percent, while Dakotas topped the 67 districts with a 99.02 percent rating.

Western also was the biggest gainer among the areas, improving its score from the previous week by 0.14 percent. The biggest gainer among the districts: No. 67-ranked Alaska, where the rating was 97.2 percent, up 11.27 percent from one week earlier.

Scanning data allows customers to track their mail and packages, which helps USPS deliver excellent service, boost loyalty and drive revenue.

To see the latest data, go to the Informed Visibility website and select “Customer Experience,” followed by “DES 2 Scan Performance.”

Memorial Day. The Postal Service is providing managers, supervisors and others with general operating policy and planning guidance for Memorial Day, which will be observed Monday, May 25.

A new memo, available on Blue, explains guidelines for delivery, retail, processing, international service, maintenance and logistics operations.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.