CLINTON — “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
It’s been 25 years that Bob Lasalle has loaded up his truck with envelopes and boxes, and pounded the sidewalks each day, making sure that unofficial U.S. Postal Service motto was carried out.
After more than two decades as a postal carrier, Lasalle decided to bid farewell to Clinton Post Office and his familiar mail route. His last day was Sept. 27.
Before starting with the U.S. Postal Service, Lasalle served five years in the U.S. Navy and also worked in marketing for the former Stertzer-Garza Architects.
“I had the opportunity to take the Civil Service exam, and I did,” Lasalle recalled. “At the time, working for the Postal Service would have about doubled my income, and my wife,” Linda, “had the opportunity to take a position she wanted, but it would be a decrease in pay. So it came down to mostly being a financial decision.”
After his exam, Lasalle, of Waterville, said he got called in for an interview and was hired as a postman in his hometown.
Lasalle said he and his fellow postal carriers definitely “earn the money,” with a typical day starting around 7:15 a.m. But with having to fill in for certain mail routes on occasion or other unanticipated duties, delivering mail can take much longer than the typical 8-hour work day.
“I’m suppose to end my day around 3:45 p.m., but I never do,” he laughed. “I never know when I’m going to be punching out.”
What Lasalle promised he won’t miss is having to be outside, trudging through the heavy snow and blizzards of an upstate New York winter.
“The blizzards were the worse,” he said matter-of-factly. “And the worse the weather, the longer you’re going to be out in it. Plus you start your day in the dark, and end your day that way. After 25 years, I just had enough. Now I want to wake up on a winter morning and say, ’Not today. I’m not going outside.’”
Taking on the prideful duty of delivering mail, however, wasn’t Lasalle’s first ambition.
“I grew up with Art Buchwald (humorist/columnist with the Washington Post), and I always wanted to do political satire,” said Lasalle with a smile. “I actually went to the Newhouse School at Syracuse University for a year.”
And who knows, perhaps during his retirement days, Lasalle will have time to pursue his first love and dream. But right now he doesn’t have any definite plans other than taking one day at a time and catching up with some reading.
“People will ask me, ‘So what do you plan on doing in retirement?,’ and I’ll say, ‘I already did it (work),’” he laughed. “I don’t want to plan anything.”
Having a pile of logs that needs splitting for his wood stove during the winter months sitting in the yard, “I have plenty to keep me busy,” Lasalle said. “I also have a garden that I’d like to spend more time in, and there’s my aquarium — I have some African Cichlids and they’re pretty cool.”
“Plus there’s like 1,000 channels on cable that I haven’t watched yet,” the postal carrier joked. “And each year I’ll go to the Kirkland Library book sale and bring home a box of books that I haven’t even read yet. In fact, I haven’t kept up on my reading, and I really do look forward to that.”
What Lasalle said he will truly miss are all the friendly faces along his route in Clinton who helped “make his day.”
“The people here on my route and in Clinton were so good to me over the years,” he said. “I want to thank them, and I want everyone to know — everyone who had a kind word for me or who would wave to me and smile — it meant a lot, and it made my day better. I’d really like for all of them to know that.”
Lasalle and wife Linda also have 24-year-old daughter Jelena, who recently graduated from Canisius College with a degree in Animal Behavior, Ecology and Conservation (ABEC).