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For Thanksgiving, A Mailman Inspires Gratitude

An oral history project called The Great Thanksgiving Listen encourages people to record interviews with loved ones over Thanksgiving weekend.
Courtesy of StoryCorps
An oral history project called The Great Thanksgiving Listen encourages people to record interviews with loved ones over Thanksgiving weekend.

Editor's Note: This story comes from a special holiday installment of StoryCorps. It's derived from a recording that comes from The Great Thanksgiving Listen. Every year, StoryCorps asks people to interview each other over the long weekend using their phones. For more information on how to participate, visitStorycorps.

Mike Kochar's grandfather only lasted one day as a mailman.

William Weigal was working as a mail sorter at a local post office when a postman called in sick. That's when he was tapped to fill in.

"And he said, 'Yeah, sure, no problem, I'll deliver the mail today,' thinking that the job was not too tough," his grandson says.

But it was tough.

"He lasted one day as a delivery man before he said, 'I can't do this anymore.' You know, he said that he almost had a heat stroke trying to deliver the mail one day," Kochar says.

That experience shaped how Weigal and his wife treated mailmen from there on out. Kochar recalls his grandparents being "very, very respectful" toward their mailman in Lemoyne, Pa., known affectionately at their house as Bucky the Mailman.

"Whenever Bucky would come to the door, they would invite him in and they would give him, you know, a glass of iced tea and a sandwich," Kochar says.

He remembers one summer day when his grandfather became distraught before they were going to leave the house. He appeared shaky, even a little bit nervous.

"I was like 'Gramps, what are you nervous about?' And he was like, 'Well, I'm afraid that Bucky is going to deliver the mail and we're not going to be here. He won't get his glass of iced tea and his sandwich.'"

Before they left, Weigal poured a glass of iced tea and made a sandwich before depositing both into a cooler, which he left on the porch. Bucky would get his sandwich and his iced tea, even if Weigal wasn't there to give them to him in person.

Kochar's grandparents continued the tradition every day Bucky came to deliver the mail.

When Kochar was at his grandmother's funeral, a gentleman who looked somewhat familiar approached him.

"He said, 'Hey, I'm Bucky the mailman, and I'm here because your grandparents cared about me.' And that's how my grandfather was. Always cared about people."

Produced forMorning Editionby Dan Collison with Michael Garofalo.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, atStoryCorps.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dan Collison
Michael Garofalo