A familiar face will no longer be seen five days a week on the streets of Waupaca.
After 34 years with the U.S. Postal Service, Cindy Whitman is hanging up her mail bag.
She retired last Friday.
Whitman delivered to homes on Berlin and School streets, Bethany Home, parts of School and Fulton streets, Oak, Maple and Pine streets.
“I deliver to the number streets in the morning and the tree streets in the afternoon,” she said.
Whitman began working part-time as a clerk-carrier in Waupaca about one month after her 21st birthday.
“I worked two hours, three days a week, delivering to the high school, the hospital and a couple of apartment houses,” Whitman recalled. “Now, at the end, I still had the hospital on my route.”
Whitman said she turned down an opportunity to begin working full time in the mid 1980s.
“My son was 5 years old and I didn’t want to work full time yet,” she said. “I had to wait five more years before I could become a full-time carrier.”
Whitman described some of the many changes that have occurred at the post office over the years.
Currently, the mail is automatically sorted into the delivery sequence before going to the carriers.
Previously, the carriers were responsible for sorting the mail.
“We had to line them up in the cases ourselves, put them in the order we would be delivering the mail,” Whitman said.
Other changes include greater use of vehicles.
In the past, carriers would first drop off batches of mail in the large relay boxes along their routes, then move from relay box to relay box, delivering to addresses in between.
Now, carriers use their vehicles rather than relay boxes.
“We call it park-and-loop. We will park at a place, then do loops from the truck,” Whitman said.
In addition to changes at the post office, Whitman has also noticed changes in herself.
“After I turned 50, I’d be sore and tired at the end of the day. It was a lot harder on my body than when I was in my 20s and 30s. My knees started hurting. My wrist started hurting,” she said.
Whitman says she works out one or two nights a week to maintain her physical strength.
“The fact that I was out walking every day, kept me more fit,” she said, adding that one of her biggest concerns about retirement will be gaining weight now that she is less active.
Other changes she has noticed is how the weather affects her.
“When I was younger, the worst was when it was cold and rainy,” Whitman said. “When I got older, it was the heat that was the worst.”
She said she did not mind winter, “unless the snow is up to your knees.”
“Fall is the best time because it’s so pretty and comfortable,” Whitman said.
Now that she’s retired, Whitman plans to spend more time with her grandchildren.
“I’ll be baby-sitting my grandson who’s 10 months old,” she said.
Whitman said she loved being a carrier.
“I’m going to miss a lot of my people and a lot of my dogs,” she said.
When asked about whether she had ever been bitten by a dog while delivering the mail, Whitman said it happened a few times over the course of her career.
“You get to know which dogs to trust. Some of them you don’t go near, but others are friendly,” Whitman said. “I love dogs and I have two of my own.”