Not sleet or snow, but it was time to go

Published 6:18 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It won’t be snow or sleet nor gloom of night that stops James Puleo from making his rounds with the U.S. Postal Service — it will just be time.

After 34 years of government service, Puleo, who works as a rural carrier out of the Kenbridge Post Office, is retiring at the end of January.

He was going to retire at the beginning of the month, but a paperwork snafu prompted the delay.

“It’s been fun; it’s been real; but it hasn’t been real fun,” Puleo said with a laugh, before adding, “It’s time to go.”

Puleo, 69, worked for the postal service for 26 years. He had eight years of military service, serving in first the Navy and then the Army. “I was proud to serve,” he said.

After his military service, Puleo worked shortly for the Department of Defense, and then as a substitute rural carrier before a full-time slot became open.

“I wanted to be a rural carrier ever since I was a kid,” Puleo said. “It’s a good job. It’s not backbreaking, and you meet a lot of people. You’re in the office for half the day and you’re out for the other half. That’s how I like it. I don’t have to be in the same place eight hours.”

Admittedly, he said, the job has certainly changed. Years ago “it was just deliver the package. They had an idea where I was, but they didn’t know exactly.” Not anymore. Now, his supervisors can track his every movement, and the packages are scanned so that customers can track them as well.

Puleo moved to Lunenburg from Baltimore, Md., with his family in 1972 after his mother inherited a 100-acre farm and its house. “Been here ever since,” he said. “Great country.”

When the land was divided up, each of his two brothers got 35 acres apiece, and Puleo ended up with 20 acres and the farmhouse, which was built in 1810. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground on Nov. 17. “That was one of the things that prompted my retirement,” he said. “I have a house to build.”

When they moved into the house it had no electricity and no indoor water. “It was a work in progress, but we were almost there,” Puleo said.

And, now, he said, it will again be a work in progress. The new house will be rebuilt 100 yards from the original site.

Meanwhile, Puleo has been saying his goodbyes to those on his route.

“I’ve been letting them know it’s been a pleasure serving them and they are in good hands with the person taking over the route,” he said.