ELYRIA — Is there any better way to honor your father than following in his footsteps?
For three families in Elyria, the business of sorting and delivering mail has been a family tradition stretching out for decades, as three sets of sons followed their fathers’ paths into the U.S. Postal Service.
The sons claim that they were more interested in getting a well-paying job than following their dads, but the fathers seem to think they might have had a bit of an influence.
“I started working at the post office in 1963 in San Francisco as a mail sorter, but I moved back to Elyria and started working a route on Gulf Road over by the American Legion a year later,” George Alberts, a native Elyrian, said. “My son, Edward, wasn’t even born until 1972, so I had almost 10 years of delivering mail by the time he came around. I was out delivering mail when he was born. Somebody had to come and get me while I was out on my route.”
George eventually retired from the mail business in 1995 to focus on his gardening and his fishing. Three years later, Edward decided to take up the family business in Cleveland.
“It’s a good-paying job, so it made sense for him to get into it, and he knew about it because I had been doing it most of his life,” George said of his son’s decision. “He asked me if I thought he should get into it, and I told him to go for it.”
In 1998, Edward started working at the Main Post Office in Cleveland as a mail handler loading mail on the truck docks with aspirations of transferring to Elyria at some point.
“It was the right opportunity at the right time, but it didn’t hurt that my dad had been in the business,” Edward said. “I was hoping to work in Elyria, but at this point I am pretty pleased in Cleveland, so I will probably stay here.”
The story is almost the same for the Clark family, where father Robert Clark started working for the Elyria Post Office in 1945.
“When I got out of the Navy, I needed a job and I signed up with the Elyria Post Office, and I guess I never looked back until I retired in 1987,” the 85-year-old Elyria man said. “In 1974, my son Jeff was looking for another job, and he decided to join me in Elyria.”
From 1974 to 1987, father and son spent their mornings together sorting mail and their evenings talking about troublesome dogs along their separate routes.
“My father worked a route in Elyria Township, while I picked up spare routes until I finally grabbed my own route in North Ridgeville,” Jeff said. “My father had more problems with the dogs than I did, but we both had our fair share of difficult days. I never had to deal with the dogs that much before I retired in 2005.”
A third father-son duo also made their way through the mail-carrying ranks in Elyria.
Ted Pileski and his son, Mike, both delivered mail in the city from 1970 to 1987, when Ted retired from his post.
“I got laid off from my construction job when I was 40 and eventually took a job with the post office,” the 82-year-old Ted Pileski said. “My son definitely followed me there. He was 18 when he started, and I think he always kind of thought that he wanted to be a carrier too.”
While father Ted was delivering mail on East River Road, son Mike got to work in North Ridgeville, but Mike said there was more to his decision than just his father working at the post office.
“When I turned 18 back in 1970, I didn’t have any intentions of going to college, so my dad told me to take the Civil Service test and a few months later they told me to come to work, so it was the right place at the right time,” Mike said.
All of the father-and-son teams have had to cope with mail carrier’s motto that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night will halt the mail, and all of them agreed that the “nor snow” part is the most difficult.
“Cold weather is the worst —especially when there is a lot of snow on the ground that soaks into your pants and freezes you to the bone,” George Alberts said. “But it was good work. I miss the camaraderie with all of the fellow postal workers and I am glad that my son is working somewhere with a good wage and good people.”
So what will Jeff Clark and Edward Alberts be giving their fathers this Father’s Day? Either they aren’t telling — or they don’t know.
“Father’s Day? Is that on Sunday,” Jeff Clark joked. “There is still plenty of time to pick something up.”
Or maybe deliver a card?
Contact Joe Medici at 329-7152 or email@example.com.
COURTESY ALBERTS FAMILY
George Alberts, a retired mail carrier, poses in 1990 while doing his route on Gulf Road. Alberts’ son, Edward, followed in his footsteps and works for the U.S. Postal Service in Cleveland.