Forty years on the same route: thanks for your service, “Joe the Mailman” Kalsow!

 

“Joe the Mailman” Kalsow walks the route along Indiana Avenue.

Story and photos by WNLP’s Mike Kellems

       Today, nearly 65 years of mail delivery service will come to a close in our fair city. More than six decades, all on the same postal route and in the same neighborhood, from two people with the same name. Joe Kalsow, who likes to call himself “Joe the Mailman” will deliver his last piece of mail on April 24, 2020.

     Joe’s career began way back on December 8, 1980, so he will be just shy of 40 years. And if that isn’t impressive enough, Joe’s dad Marvin, walked the same route and delivered to the same customers starting way, way back in 1956! The elder Kalsow hung up his mailbag in 1985.

Joe hands off a package to long-time customer Jeff Dunk.

     Yesterday, on Thursday, April 23 — which happened to be Joe’s 62nd birthday — WNLP had the opportunity to shadow Joe and chat a bit as he made a few deliveries in the 1200 block of Indiana Avenue. La Porte’s two beautiful avenues have been the backdrop to Joe’s walking mail route since he began with the Unites States Postal Service and, of course, once his dad retired. Joe says that he has many fond memories and is moved by the fact that he has seen kids in the neighborhood grow, start their own families and move back into the neighborhood. Joes says that in all of his years of service, he has never been bitten by a dog and in fact, he is most often greeted by friendly canines. It may very well be due to the bag of dog biscuits Joe carries.

     Joe’s route, in addition to Indiana and Michigan avenues, includes Fox Street and goes from “A” to “H” Streets in La Porte; on occasion he has helped with other routes. He once wore a fit bit and found that his 6.5 hours of daily delivery adds up to roughly 13 miles of walking. Joe received the US Postal Service “Million Miles” award for having more than one million miles of accident-free driving. Although not an official motto of the US Postal Service, Joe has lived by the credo  “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” … well, other than a couple years back when Mother Nature treated us to -40 degree temperatures. Postal workers were simply and rightfully not allowed to go on their appointed rounds for two days.

     While the average weight for his mailbag is 15 to 20 pounds and is never to exceed 35 pounds, Joe says there were no hard feelings when the Montgomery Ward, Sears and JC Penney catalogs stopped rolling off the presses.

     Joe says he has no special plans after this Friday, other than to do whatever his wife Lisa asks of him. His daughter Jenna, of whom Joe is very proud, will soon be graduating from college. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for celebrating have been put on hold, as have plans for a trip to Disney World. He says that he will miss the friendly encounters, talking with folks and getting to know so many people. I suspect that many of the folks along your route will miss you too, Joe.

     Thanks for your service … enjoy your retirement … and Happy Birthday, too!

Lori Williamson at Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home, Essling Chapel, takes the handoff of mail from Joe the Mailman.

 

And this afternoon, John Watterson wrote WNLP “I just wanted to share the card we made for Joe on his last day. After 35 years we are going to miss him:”

54 Responses to “Forty years on the same route: thanks for your service, “Joe the Mailman” Kalsow!”

  1. Dean Heise

    Apr 24. 2020

    Happy retirement Joe! Congratulations to you 🎉! Enjoy.

    Reply to this comment
    • Don

      Apr 24. 2020

      It’s been him or his dad delivering since I was born. He’s done a fantastic job over the years! Happy retirement Joe!

      Reply to this comment
      • Downs family

        Apr 24. 2020

        Congrats on your retirement. Glad u were our mailman 🙂

        Reply to this comment
    • Happy Retirment

      Apr 25. 2020

      Happy Retirement., Joe
      Tina

      Reply to this comment
  2. Uncle Rick

    Apr 24. 2020

    Congratulations Joe! More time for darts or maybe Lisa’s honey do list when time permits. Enjoy!!

    Reply to this comment
    • Hough family

      Apr 27. 2020

      Joe’s father was our mailman for years. I grew up on D St right by Kiwanis field. After he retired, I believe Joe took over his father’s route. Thank you Joe for your friendly service and congratulations on your retirement!

      Reply to this comment
  3. Mick Bunton

    Apr 24. 2020

    MOOSE MARVIE would be proud of you.I remember helping him (yes clerks carried mail back then) he told me don’t forget the dog bones,
    sure enough the dog was waiting for me. One other point Joe is a Marine
    Served his country in more than one way. I know you always gave us clerks a hard time. Like I said I passed the Civil Service test that’s why I was
    made a clerk. Stay out of dog houses. I didn’t forget your Birthday and I’m
    still the original #23. TAKE CARE MY FRIEND

    Reply to this comment
    • Steve Myres

      Apr 24. 2020

      Happy Birthday Joe, happy retirement.

      Reply to this comment
    • Jasmin

      Apr 24. 2020

      I just now read this article and hoped I hadn’t missed you on your last delivery to our home, but we did. Thank you for being our mailman for the past yr and a half. I hope life after retirement brings you many blessings.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Bill Boklund

    Apr 24. 2020

    Congratulations, Joe! We are sure going to miss you. Have a long, happy retirement.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ronda Haverstock

      Apr 24. 2020

      You were one of the best! Retirement is great. You will love it! Congratulations from one retiree to another!

      Reply to this comment
      • Cary and Sharon Kirkham

        Apr 24. 2020

        Congratulations Joe. Dedication to a job like what you have done is rare these days.
        Enjoy your retirement.

        Reply to this comment
      • Crystal Vowell

        Apr 24. 2020

        Thank you and happy retirement.

        Reply to this comment
      • Roger Lilly

        Apr 24. 2020

        Joe I used to live next to the police station and have two shy-zues and drive a yellow GMC Canyon. I hope you and your wife enjoy your retirement years. And as an Army vet of Vietnam for two years I thank you for your service and sacrifices you and your family endured. I wish you the very best for your further adventures ahead of you.

        Reply to this comment
    • Max E Miller

      Apr 24. 2020

      Happy retirement, Joe!

      Reply to this comment
      • Kevin Watterson

        Apr 25. 2020

        Hi and Happy birthday Joe And Yes I will miss you Joe and yes Joe Did a Good and Great joe joe and thank you for the all the hard work and I am give you a update

        Reply to this comment
  5. Chris and Dave Airy

    Apr 24. 2020

    Joe the Mailman….always kind and always smiling. Joe made our neighborhood a better place. We appreciate his dedication and service. Thank you Joe! We will all miss you. The grandkids say hi!
    The Airy Family

    Reply to this comment
  6. Dan and Jackie Michaels

    Apr 24. 2020

    Well I guess it’s time to take down the Beware of Wife sign. Have a nice retirement.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Terresa Draves

    Apr 24. 2020

    Enjoy retirement Joe!! I know that my Dad and Kevin will miss giving you a hard time!!

    Reply to this comment
  8. Sue Lindborg

    Apr 24. 2020

    Awesome! Congratulations Joe,enjoy your retirement.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Shelli Donaldson

    Apr 24. 2020

    Enjoy retirement Joe! Stormy says he’ll miss ya!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Mia Tomei

    Apr 24. 2020

    Congratulations! We wish you the very best retirement however, I must confess we’re (even Alice our dog) going to be sad you’re not the mailman anymore. GOD bless you!

    Reply to this comment
  11. Judy Keene

    Apr 24. 2020

    Congratulations On your retirement Joe. A job well done. Relax and enjoy !

    Reply to this comment
  12. Margaret Sawyer

    Apr 24. 2020

    Happy happy retirement from the Sawyer’s and Wiggle Butt( Link)@ 415 H St

    Reply to this comment
  13. Sydney

    Apr 24. 2020

    We will miss you so much!! You were a wonderful mail man! Enjoy your retirement!!

    Reply to this comment
  14. Dick Emmons

    Apr 24. 2020

    Happy Birthday and Retirement, Joe. Third Street will miss your smiling face

    Reply to this comment
  15. Paul J. Cains

    Apr 24. 2020

    Happy retirement Joe! Thanks for your years of great service and care to our homes!!

    Reply to this comment
  16. Howie and Donna Hunsley

    Apr 24. 2020

    Happy birthday and congratulations on your retirement!

    Reply to this comment
  17. Karen Smiley

    Apr 24. 2020

    Congratulations Joe! Enjoy your retirement!

    Reply to this comment
  18. The Kabos

    Apr 24. 2020

    Best wishes Joe! We are really going to miss you friend! Thank you for the most dedicated and reliable service you provided all these years. The neighborhood will not be the same without you. Enjoy!

    Reply to this comment
  19. Patti Galloway

    Apr 24. 2020

    Oh My I had no idea Joe was retiring!!!! He has delivered my mail for 31 years!! I will miss his sense of humor and his dedication!!! He would always go above and beyond !!!!! Joe I will miss you I hope you enjoy your retirement although somehow with all the overtime you used to put in I wonder how your gonna sit still. You are gonna be missed!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!

    Reply to this comment
  20. Susan

    Apr 24. 2020

    Congratulations on your retirement. You sure deserve it! What a dedicated mailman. Will miss the smiles and small talk I had with you while taking my dog, Dolly, for our daily walks.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jeanne Bennitt

      Apr 24. 2020

      Happy Birthday and Retirement. You know it’s not going to be the same. I won’t be able to call you trouble anymore and talk about old times.
      Going to miss not having you for a mailman.

      Reply to this comment
  21. Frank Keszei

    Apr 24. 2020

    We are going to miss seeing Joe on a daily basis. Wishing you all the very best!

    Reply to this comment
  22. Rebecca Arneson

    Apr 24. 2020

    Joe…..I knew you told me you were going to retire in the Spring I didn’t know today was your last day. Our family will miss your wonderful smile, friendly service, and how you cared for others. Enjoy the many years to come as it is your time to sit back and enjoy. Take care and be safe!! Happy Retirement!

    Reply to this comment
  23. Jari Troth

    Apr 24. 2020

    Well good for you!! You so deserve a very happy retirement!! Now you will have many days you may go for a walk only when you feel like it! 😊 Best of wishes always Joe!

    Reply to this comment
  24. David Sirugo

    Apr 24. 2020

    Joe — Congratulations on your retirement!….it won’t be the same without seeing you walking the streets out there. I wish you the best my friend ! Be well and stay safe !!

    Reply to this comment
  25. Heather Boklund

    Apr 25. 2020

    Congratulations on your retirement Joe. We will miss seeing your smiling face knocking at the door to deliver a package! Thanks for being a great mailman! You will be greatly missed! Enjoy your retirement.

    Reply to this comment
  26. Robert Hasse

    Apr 25. 2020

    Time to relax, my man!

    Yours truly,

    The Professor

    Reply to this comment
  27. Lois Travis

    Apr 25. 2020

    We had no idea that last week was your last! We will miss your faithful service!
    Congratulations and enjoy retirement! – and keep up the walking!

    Jim and Lois Travis

    Reply to this comment
  28. Patrick Chodzinski

    Apr 25. 2020

    It has been a delight to see you every delivering all my packages at Essling Funeral Home. I wish you all the Best and a Long and Happy Retirement..

    Enjoy

    Reply to this comment
  29. Ron Taddeucci

    Apr 25. 2020

    Joe
    Enjoy retiirement, I remember the steps you took all those years, and the people you served., because I was your Dads swing man for 7
    Years. Your route was one of the best in La Porte.
    Take care and have a long and happy retirement. Also happy birthday
    A friend of branch 200

    Reply to this comment
  30. Keith

    Apr 25. 2020

    Congratulations and enjoy. You never delivered my mail but remember you from ATA.

    Reply to this comment
  31. Debra S

    Apr 25. 2020

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday ! Enjoy your retirement ! Thank you for all the years of service . Be Well !

    Reply to this comment
    • Hoops Family

      May 01. 2020

      We and Elmo will miss seeing you every day. Since the day after you retired, Elmo still looks outside watching for you….Best wishes for safe and Happy Retirement…

      Reply to this comment
  32. Ripl Ludlow

    Apr 25. 2020

    Congratulations Joe!

    So happy that Frank and I were able to reach out to Mike Kellems and get your story out to the people about your retirement. Thanks Mike
    The Kalsow legacy of delivering mail to the Ludlow’s has sadly come to an end whether it was on A street or D street and all the years of service at the Funeral home.
    You and your father have been delivering mail for 60+ years to Shelley and I.
    Thanks for your service enjoy your retirement!

    Reply to this comment
  33. Stacy

    Apr 25. 2020

    Congrats on your retirement! When I lived on H street a few back I would always like to be outside and holler hello Mail Man! He always waved and smiled back!!

    Reply to this comment
  34. Ed Trojan

    Apr 26. 2020

    40 years. Wow! Thanks for your dedication and.thanks for your friendship and all the memories. I wish you nothing but the best.

    Reply to this comment
  35. Barefoot Maleman

    Apr 26. 2020

    How the years flew by. I remember, like 23 and ET, when you hired in. How proud your dad was. Then, youur dad retired, and a slew of the old good guys followed, clerks, rurals, cities… Now, you’re gone. The last of the best. Thank you for your service Jo-Jo, military and postal. You have served your country well.. I wish you health and happiness. Always remember, old mailmen never die, we just lose our zip.

    Dewey

    Reply to this comment
  36. Diane J. Noe

    Apr 27. 2020

    Joe, wow what a legacy you leave! Lots of good feelings! I’ll miss you, my friend! Take care and enjoy your retirement! (I guess I’ll have to find another person to “stalk”…Stalker!)

    Reply to this comment
  37. Karen Martin

    Jun 26. 2020

    Congratulations, Joe!
    My dad was a retired mailman. Like him, I can’t even imagine all the miles you have walked throughout the years. I hope you are able to enjoy many years filling your time with joy and happiness. LaPorte was blessed with your service to the community.

    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply