- Associated Press - Sunday, August 9, 2015

BROOKLAND, Ark. (AP) - Zero is the amount of days Ralph Elder has missed because of the weather.

Zero is also the number of complaints Brookland residents have filed against the 70-year-old mailman during his 30-year career.

There will be no more scorching summer days or frigid winter mornings for Elder. He finally retired as Brookland’s rural mail carrier, The Jonesboro Sun (https://bit.ly/1KT1QcF ) reported.

Elder worked 15 years as a substitute, delivering only a few days per week, but he spent the last 15 years working as one of Brookland’s two full-time carriers.

His route is 76 miles every day, and he uses his personal truck. That’s 296,400 miles Elder has driven strictly on a mail route over the last 15 years. Since starting at the post office, he has gone through four different trucks.



Lisa Scott, Brookland’s postmaster, said Elder will be a tough employee to replace.

“You don’t ever get a complaint from anyone on Ralph’s route,” Scott said. “Everyone knows and loves him.”

Already wearing a T-shirt with the words “Retired Postal Worker,” Elder shared some of his favorite stories with a Sun reporter.

Elder revealed the stereotype is true - mailmen and dogs are in an eternal struggle against one another.

“People always say their dogs don’t bite,” Elder said with a smile. “They’ve gotten my pants legs pretty good, but I’ve never been bit.”

Whenever there was an issue with someone’s mail, Elder always resolved it with a sense of humor. He remembered one family began parking a red car in front of their mailbox, which made it impossible for Elder to deliver the mail without exiting his truck. One day, he left a note that read, “Please move the mailbox 10 feet away from the red car.”

The family elected to go the much easier route and move the car. Elder later found out the car belonged to the family’s son who had been deployed overseas for military service.

There was also the story about the man who had a huge rut in front of his mailbox. Elder left him a note, asking him to fix the rut. The man thought Elder’s substitute left the note, and he told Elder he was going to kick the sub’s butt. Elder revealed to the man it was in fact him who wrote the note.

“He didn’t tell me he would whoop my butt,” Elder laughed.

Elder was about 40 when he started delivering mail. Before, the lifelong Brookland resident owned a grocery store. As money at the store got tighter and tighter, Elder realized he’d have to open the store on Sunday to make ends meet.

“I don’t work on Sundays,” Elder said. “Sunday is God’s day.”

He subbed for a few years, and he sold the grocery store once a full-time position became available.

Elder said he’ll miss waking up and going to work every morning, but he has nine grandchildren ranging from age 25 years old to 19 months old that should keep him from getting too bored.

Brookland has grown tremendously since Elder started delivering mail in December 1985. There were about 500 mailboxes when he started. There’s more than 1,000 now.

He’s had four different postmasters, five heart bypasses and six stints put in over the last 30 years.

A lot has happened since Elder started, and Elder has seen it all. After all, he’s never missed a day.

___

Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com

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