- The Washington Times - Monday, August 9, 2004

NALCREST, Fla. - Welcome to Nalcrest, population 800 and ZIP code 33856, where the nation’s letter carriers come to retire when they have set down the bag for the last time.

The tiny town with plenty of mail bonding was created by the postal workers union more than 40 years ago for couriers done in not by rain, sleet or snow, but by age.

Its rows of apartments are tidy, with many homes proudly displaying the union’s logo. Pets, including mail-carrier-chasing dogs, are forbidden. So are home mailboxes. Residents pick up their mail at the post office in the town square, a hub adorned with a statue commemorating a 19th-century postmaster.

“This is the greatest thing going,” said Joe Giordano, 79, who retired from New York’s Westchester Station after 40 years of delivering mail. “How can you find any fault with a place like this?”

Florida long has been a destination for retirees, and almost 18 percent of the population is 65 or older. The state also is home to several specialized retirement communities. The retired mail carriers are kin to the carnival workers of Gibsonton and the homosexuals at Palms of Manasota in Palmetto.

The idea of a retirement community had been discussed for years, and in 1958, union President William C. Doherty sold the membership on the idea.

“At the time, old letter carriers were broken down. They were worked until they literally could not work anymore,” said Sean McCormally, assistant editor of the union’s monthly magazine, Postal Record.

The first residents arrived in May 1963, paying monthly rents that ranged from $75 for an efficiency to $95 for a two-bedroom apartment.

“People at that time weren’t making much money in the post office, and Doherty figured if they could retire, sell the homes they had up North and come down here, then they could live comfortably on this inexpensive rent,” said Jerry Kane, Nalcrest’s general manager.

Rents have remained cheap, currently running from $285 to $305.

Nalcrest, about 50 miles south of Orlando, took its name from the union: National Association of Letter Carriers Retirement Education Security Training Foundation.

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