When Larry Schneider became a substitute mail carrier for the Kimball Post Office March 28, 1979, he had no idea that he would someday retire 34 years later having logged nearly 1,000,000 miles.
The 1976 Kimball High School grad just wanted a part-time job that would allow him to continue farming with his father, Walter.
However, with Howard Borman retiring as the mail carrier for Route 1, someone was needed to fill in temporarily and then permanently. Schneider, who was raised along Route 1 near Pearl Lake, took the Civil Service exam and was offered the job.
(One side note: Howard Borman’s son, Ed, was a high school classmate and friend to Schneider and they remain friends still. A second side note: This author was a childhood friend as well and was a groomsman in his wedding.)
So, in January 1980, Schneider became the full-time carrier for Route 1, which was the same route that a bomb that blew up in the Kimball Post Office four years earlier was intended.
Schneider, though, said that never entered into his mind. Instead, he concentrated on doing the best job possible along the
70- to 80-mile long route.
Larry Schneider has logged nearly a million miles delivering mail from the Kimball Post Office. He’s smiling here because this was the end of his last run on his last day, Friday, May 3. Enjoy your retirement, Larry! Staff photo by Stephanie Johnson.
Upon his retirement last Friday, Schneider was awarded a plaque from the post office congratulating him on induction into the “Million Mile Club.”
“It’s probably a little less than that,” Schneider said. “I tried to figure it out once and I know it’s been at least 750,000 miles.”
All of those miles and Schneider never had an accident. Oh, there were times when he got stuck in the snow or his car broke down, but even though he logged countless miles on busy Minnesota Highway 15, he never even came upon an accident.
His days generally began around 7:30 to 8 a.m. when he would arrive at the post office and sort mail. By 10 a.m., he likely was on the route, wrapping up most days around 3 p.m. Then it was back to the farm to do whatever chores needed to be done.
In those early years, Schneider farmed with his Dad. Today, two sons, Michael and Dan, have joined him in the business. In addition, a third son, Dave, helps whenever he can. Dave works full-time as athletic director at Even Valley-Watkins High School. Together the family farms about 1,000 acres and raises 600 steers.
You do not log nearly a million miles and do not go through a vehicle or two. Schneider remembers his first delivery vehicle – a ‘70s model Jeep Wagoneer. Then there were a couple of AMC Eagles, a Dodge Dakota pickup truck and his current ride, a 2006 Jeep that has 170,000 miles on it. It was that last vehicle that Schneider had the driver’s side equipment moved from the left side to the right. That, he said, made delivery a little easier.
Schneider will not miss delivering mail in the cold. In winter, with his window being down most of the time, “it was always cold,” Schneider said clasping his hand into a fist as if to remember how frozen his hands would be at the end of a shift. “The (mail) boxes were cold. They had snow on them and sometimes they had ice on them and sometimes you couldn’t get them open.”
However, that coldness was often rewarded by little gifts his customers would give to him, especially during the holidays. Sometimes there would be cookies or cake. Sometimes a pair of glove. Little things that meant a lot.
Having grown up along Route 1, Schneider knew many of the people to whom he delivered mail. Some were contemporaries of his parents. Some were friends and relatives of friends. Some were the second and third generation of folks whom he grew up knowing.
In addition, every time a person on his route died, Schneider said, “It was always a loss.”
And even though he has delivered countless packages and certified letters to houses, Schneider never once was bitten by a dog. “Dogs and I get along really well. Some won’t even bark when I drive up.”
There are between 360 and 400 stops along Route 1, a route Schneider said he could drive in his sleep. He would leave Kimball down Minnesota Highway 15, take a left at the Luxemburg feed store, head to Pearl Lake and zigzag his way to the Stickney Hill area while making his way back to town.
Because he worked his postal job and farmed, Schneider said he never really had time to acquire a hobby. He doubts that he will start now, even in retirement.
“We (he and his wife, Julie) might be gone for some part of the winter,” he said of his plans. “I really don’t like winter so much.”