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Postal worker retires after 47 years

By JULIAN CAVAZOS
March 27, 2009 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2009 at 10:27 p.m.

Felix Rivera, 68, greets a customer Thursday morning at the Main St. post office. Rivera is retiring from the U.S. Postal Service after 47 years and 8 months.

After 47 years and eight months of working at the Victoria post office, Felix Rivera, decided it was time to hang up his mailbag.

And it's no secret to the downtown post office on Main Street, where he works.

A banner in front of his counter reads: "Be sure to say goodbye to Felix - He is retiring."

Rivera's last full day was Friday, and he's loved his job, he said.

"I have no regrets. I was happy to have this job," the Victoria native said. "I'll miss the people, the employees, the friends that I made throughout the years. I do have mixed feelings about leaving, but it's time."

Rivera, 68, is a friend to many who walk into the post office each day. He has been behind the counter since 1974.

"I come to the post office twice a day with my job," said Kitty Hancock, 55, who works as a law clerk at Walker Keeling and Carroll, LLP. "He's always friendly, happy and knows everybody by name. He's really a great guy."

His co-workers say they will miss him as well, such as Alfred Rosas, who works the counter with him as a sales and services associate.

They spend all day together.

"Just about everything out there from 8 to 5, we do together." Rosas said, who has known him for more than 20 years. "We dance, we laugh, we sing, we joke, we clown around, we work very well together."

In his nearly 50 year run at the post office, Rivera has seen just about everything get mailed in and out, he said.

"We get all kinds of stuff through the mail," he said. "We see tires, people sending out these boxes with roosters. We got these big boxes of honey bees. There's bees getting out and flying all over the place. People are amazed at that kind of stuff. They do it all the time."

Rivera was first hired at age 21 in 1961 as a sub, back when stamps were 8 cents, and postcards were 27 cents. He would work from about 3 a.m. until 9 a.m. to carry a route. Then, he would work again collecting mail at the different post offices until 9 p.m.

He subbed sometimes seven days a week, but he didn't mind the busy work schedule.

"I was willing to work the hours," he said. "Sunday, I'd come in early in the morning at the old office at Town Country Center when the building was still there, and do the boxes on Sunday morning."

Even today, Rivera just wants to be kept busy, retirement included.

"I don't plan to stay home and watch TV all day," he said. "The first thing I told my wife is let's take a vacation. I'm sure I'll find something to do. I don't want a full-time job. I've talked to a few people to work a few hours a week just to have something to do. Maybe do a little bit of volunteer work."

Rivera worked several jobs at he post office including being a distribution clerk and expeditor to the incoming mail.

He will retire as a window service technician.

"I don't know what to say," said Victoria postmaster Ken Epley. "Felix is probably what a lot of people picture when they think about the post office. It's his smiling face and helpfulness in serving them since he's been here so long. He's a true core kind of person that will just be difficult to replace."

VICTORIA POST OFFICE HISTORY

1839 - Victoria first commissioned by the Republic of Texas. It had a weekly mail route from Victoria to Live Oak Point. Located at 307 S. Bridge.

1839-1856 - The time James A. Moody served as Victoria's first postmaster.

1849 - Second location of post office, located inside the Court House.

1913 - Victoria Post Office opens for business

1960 - The present post office on 312 S. Main is built at a cost of $1,560,000.

1985 - A new James Moody Station is built on Sam Houston Drive

Source: Fred Dorr, Victoria Preservation, Inc.

COOL FACTS ABOUT VICTORIA POST OFFICES

Victoria has received mail by horseback, stage coach, ships from Indianola, airplane, rail and by truck.

Victoria sorts mail for 35 smaller post offices in Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Jackson, Lavaca and Refugio counties.

Victoria post offices average a sorting of 500,000 to 700,000 pieces of mail day.

Source: Fred Dorr, Victoria Preservation, Inc.

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