- Associated Press - Saturday, August 20, 2016

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - A longtime mail carrier in one of western North Dakota’s largest cities says there was a time when he knew who lived in every house. That was before the recent oil boom.

“Then they were building buildings that didn’t have a street or addresses,” Bryon Trowbridge said. “That was crazy.”

Trowbridge, a lifelong resident of Williston, is retiring after delivering the mail for two decades. His cohorts say they will miss his vibrant character and big heart. He was known to make noise around the office and was known as the man who started “singing Saturdays,” the Williston Herald reported (https://bit.ly/2bSFjpx).

Trowbridge said he never walked on people’s lawns while delivering the mail.

“I like the people,” Trowbridge said. “I like my customers.”

The community knows Trowbridge as “Hambone.” Although cohorts say that might fit a persona that includes nearly non-stop jokes, the moniker comes from what he did for people during the collapse of the previous oil boom, in the 1980s.

Trowbridge saw many of his friends become unemployed when good times turned to bad. Marginal unemployment benefits left many of them hungry, though they did receive 10-pound blocks of cheese, something Trowbridge could work with. He would smoke the cheese and return it with ham he always kept on hand.

“I’d feed them hungry guys,” Trowbridge said. “I fed a lot of them ham and cheese.”

Another passion is his 35 acres of land, where he tends to trees and a garden. He donates the fruits of his labor to the Heritage Center to ensure the senior community receives fresh produce. His hobby has earned “volunteer of the month” several times at the senior center.

As a mail carrier, he followed the footsteps of his father, a longtime postal service worker.

“I worked with his dad, he was the nicest,” postal worker Jodie Clarys said. “He was the quietest guy, too, not like Byron.”

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