Retiring letter carrier is a friend, too

first_imgThe proof is right there in Stark’s personnel file, Van Nuys Postmaster Joel Smith said. “We’ve never gotten one letter of complaint about John, but plenty of letters of compliment. After 24 years out on the streets delivering mail, that’s pretty incredible.” Smith met Stark 20 years ago when they were both taking the supervisors exam. Both men passed, but when Stark looked around the office and saw all those suits and ties, he opted to stay out on the streets in his postal shorts. “I’m just not an inside person,” he said. “Put me outside with the people.” At 60, he knows he’s kind of young to be retiring, but he figures he’ll pick up some part-time work if he gets bored. The way he sees it, being a letter carrier is a young person’s job, anyway. “Bring the youngsters in, and let the old people go,” Stark says, laughing. “I’m going to miss the people and stopping to talk with them every day. But I’m sure not going to miss all those circulars and junk mail.” From your friends on Langdon Avenue, happy retirement, John. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. [email protected] (818) 713-3749160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Up and down Langdon Avenue – a long stretch of apartment buildings in Van Nuys – residents were saying the same thing about Stark, their letter carrier, who is retiring. For nearly 20 years, the Vietnam veteran has delivered the mail on route629 – the longest route in the Van Nuys post office. He’s gone from postman to friend; he’s been a mentor to young boys growing up in a neighborhood with gang violence. “I’ve seen them born, grow up, get married, and I’ve seen them be buried,” Stark said Wednesday, delivering the mail on Langdon. “I’ve got plenty of gang bangers on my route, and one-on-one they’re fantastic, but when they get together in the gang, well.” Stark tells them about the gang he used to be in 40 years ago – the toughest gang in America. The Marines. “You try to make it personal, get their attention to a better life out there,” Stark said. “Sometimes they listen. Sometimes they don’t. Either way, if you care, you’ve got to try. And I care.” John Stark went from being Patricia Kennedy’s letter carrier to being her friend the week her father died a few years ago. “I was standing outside crying when John pulled up in his mail truck and asked what was wrong. When I told him, he held out his arms and gave me a hug. “He let me stand there crying on his shoulder for as long as I needed to get it all out,” the Van Nuys woman said Wednesday. “In a time when people don’t care, John cares. I don’t think he realizes how much we’re all going to miss him.” last_img read more