Sunday, May 21, 2023

"The best mailman ever"

    The suburbs get a bad rap, as a bland neutered nowheres devoid of the charm and crackle of the city. You don't hear that as much post-COVID. And while there is some truth to it — nothing radiates silence and emptiness like a deserted suburban street — there are also human hearts beating outside the boundaries of Chicago. There are
people living here too. We too leave our mark, sometimes.
     For instance, my wife and I were wandering downtown Northbrook — a few blocks from our house — and we walked down Church Street, a bit off our beaten track. We noticed an improbable sight: a bronze mail bag on a metal bench at the corner of Church and Chapel, in front of what used to be Hope Union Church, now the offices of the Northbrook Historical Society.
     I'm believe we've seen it before, years ago. And driven past it many times unnoticing. But cars blind us to the details of life. And time effaces. We read the plaque. "In loving memory of Rudy Alex Loosa," it began. "Mailman extraordinaire on Northbrook Route 8 from 1997 - 2017. Rudy dedicated his life to his faith, family and friends and was a true gift to our neighborhood. Sit down, relax, and remember his contagious smile and share his love for all!"
     We sat down — you kind of have to. We relaxed, just for a minute, soaking in the beautiful early spring Saturday. long enough for our own red-bearded postman to come by, his boxy white truck parked directly across the road. It would look trite in a movie. I thought of yelling something. "Nice tribute to your fallen comrade!" Or some such thing. But that didn't feel right, he didn't look in our direction, and I decided not to stay this courier from the swift completion of his appointed rounds.
Rudy Alex Loosa
     I draped my right arm over the warm bronze mailbag, and we studied the details. Beautifully wrought. Someone put a lot of time and money into this. Somebody or group of somebodies cared, a lot.     
      The music from the arts festival in the park wafted over on the soft May breeze, and we got up and headed over to look at the artists' booths.
     Back at home, some details seemed in order. Loosa died in 2017, while delivering mail, at age 59. "Beloved Northbrook mail carrier dies on job" is the headline on the Tribune story.
     "He was the quintessential mailman some of us remember from 1950s television, where everybody knew the mailman, knew the milkman, and they knew about you and your family, knew about your losses, your celebrations, your victories," Scott Cawley told Irv Leavitt. "There was always a smile on his face and a great sense of optimism."
     He would deliver holiday cards to his customers, introducing himself, telling them how much he appreciated them.
     There just aren't enough people like that. I'm certainly not one. After I read about Loosa, I was sorry I hadn't said something to our mailman, passing right there. Our only communication is my ritual call of "Sorry!" when Kitty barks at him — she isn't a barky dog, but she's taken an unusual emity to the mailman, as dogs sometimes do. Maybe next time.


  1. I had mail carrier like that. He carried dog treats so all the dogs on his route adored him, and they did. Mr. Loosa sounds like a treasure and gone too soon.

  2. I am married to the best Mail Carrier in Mundelein! He started his career in Northbrook in 1985, and has been in Mundelein since 1988. He is a wonderful, also optimistic and talkative guy who loves the people on his route! He has a touch of a surly side, if needed though! 🤗

  3. I feel that way about my garbage collector. Abraham is a soft, caring man. When he has time, he drags my empty can up my driveway so it’s easy for me to put in the garage. When I’m driving and see him on his route, he always waves, sometimes stops to ask how I am. (He knows I have cancer.) I tell him I hope he doesn’t retire as long as I am here, and always give him a small summer and holiday tip.

  4. Yeah the suburbs to get a bad rap but I mean let's be realistic without the suburbs we wouldn't have.... Tollways, IKEA, Walmart, lots of really nice things. So yay to the suburbs!

  5. I wish we had a regular mail we did for many years. Now we get the mail delivered at different times of day by different carriers, and a lot of them are subs who don't really seem to know what their job entails. I even had one tell me, for the first time in thirty years of living here, that I cannot refuse or return junk mail, or mail to unknown names, or fraudulent scam items. Not if the envelope is addressed to CURRENT RESIDENT. Don't tell me what to do...just do what you were hired to do...carry and deliver.. Some Federal employees don't seem to know how good they have it.

  6. My carrier is too lazy to bend over & put the mail through the mail slot, so she just throws it between the front door & the storm door!

    And Grizz: All junk mail should be required to be "First Class Return Postage Guaranteed"! Just draw a big black diagonal slash through your address, black out the bar code & throw it in a big blue collection box on the nearest corner. It will either get returned or sent to the dead letter office & then get shredded!

    1. Do you understand how difficult it is to deliver the mail? Do you know that a person that walks 10 mi a day for their job being called lazy is asinine. I think if you look up the regulations there's a certain size and shape mailbox that's supposed to be positioned in a certain place that you haven't provided. So don't complain that they don't push it through the slat in the door. You're just a jerk

  7. Love that you named your dog Kitty! So did we, although decades ago. Stories ensued. As they do with dogs.

  8. I have to assume Neil, like me, marveled at how such an uncontroversial, warm-hearted, feel-good post managed to stir up such rancor from two of the EGD regulars.

    Gee fellas, this is a swell piece about a nice guy. Aren't there enough other opportunities to bash the Postal Service that you could have skipped this one? : )

    These days one can never quite tell what's serious and what's parody. Case in point: your 1:11 comment, Franco. That certainly seems to be tongue-in-cheek, but I imagine there are those for whom it would be a straight-up observation.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.