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Democrat Photo by Jeanne Sager

Walt Brzytwa and his regular mode of transportation these days

But Walt Brzytwa Still
Has a Farm to Manage

By Jeanne Sager
ROSCOE — November 25, 2005 – It wasn’t the wind, the sleet or even the snow that stopped Walt Brzytwa.
It was age.
“I’m 65 years old,” the retired rural carrier said last week with a smile, “I’ve got enough headaches – I let the younger kids take it over.”
Brzytwa drove his last mail route earlier this month, dropping off mail at boxes throughout Roscoe, then heading over to North Branch to pick up the packages for the folks in Buck Brook.
On Nov. 3, he said goodbye to the people he’s served for 41 years and returned to the farm he built up from the small operation his father ran in the 1930s.
Brzytwa drove his first route as a substitute in 1964.
A 1959 graduate of Roscoe Central School, Brzytwa was farming even back then, and he recalls being young and looking for something extra to do.
He became a full-time driver in the early 1990s when his son, Tony, was diagnosed with leukemia and the medical bills began to mount.
Brzytwa refers to his mornings out in his little Geo Tracker with the bright red and blue US Mail logos as “road hunting” – out there, he saw it all.
He saw “a lot of good people” on his 300 stops, people like Hannah Hahl who waited near the mailbox to see what letters and what news Brzytwa was delivering today.
He saw bad accidents and near misses – had a few close calls himself, like the day he came around the turn on a narrow road and a Brinks truck was coming right at him on his side of the road.
But he never had an accident.
Raised on farming equipment, Brzytwa wasn’t scared to get behind the wheel in the worst weather – even a Sullivan County snowstorm wasn’t going to stop this mail carrier from getting through.
“You have to be awake all the time,” Brzytwa explained. “You can’t take your eyes off the road.”
He took his eyes off the road long enough to see houses built up in places where there were once forests as far as he could see, saw Roscoe change.
He worked in the old post office in the old building across from the IGA on Stewart Avenue, remembers the water-logged mail after local volunteers fought to save the building in a fire.
He followed the post office to its new home across town, stuck with it through five or six postmasters plus the new faces in North Branch.
He got it all done in six, seven, eight hours – depending on the amount of mail (longer hours always came around Christmas), then headed home to milk the cows.
“I usually was right on the ball,” he said. “I didn’t want to slouch around . . . I was bing, bing, and outta there.”
At 65, Brzytwa said he’s slowing down, but he’s not done yet.
“Your mind says you can do it, your body says you can’t,” he said with a smile.
But he’s still a member of the Morton Hill Hunting Club, and he’s still working.
“I used to enjoy going to work,” he said. “But now it’s a hassle . . . I’ve got enough to do here [at the farm], always have.
“Some people can’t do what I do in a day,” Brzytwa continued.
He sold his herd of milkers, but Brzytwa is still raising heifers.
“After I’m gone, that’ll be it,” he said with a sigh. “Nobody wants to work anymore.”
Brzytwa said he’ll miss his customers – “they were good to me,” he said.
And he’ll miss his co-workers.
“I enjoyed working with the girls and the people down at the post office,” he added.
“Nobody ever bothered me . . . maybe the girls will miss me,” he added hopefully.
This year, for the first time ever, Brzytwa will be putting up a mailbox on Morton Hill Road – and he’ll be waiting for his Christmas packages in the snow like everyone else.

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