Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Beloved letter carrier's mail route changes, despite effort in Old Southeast

Herman Edwards delivers mail in the Old Southeast. When folks there heard he was being reassigned, they began a campaign to keep him. His new route adds and drops a few streets.


Herman Edwards delivers mail in the Old Southeast. When folks there heard he was being reassigned, they began a campaign to keep him. His new route adds and drops a few streets.


People in the neighborhood know him as Herman. He knows which of their children are in college, who doesn't mind if you walk on the lawn, who might be a prowler and who just moved in next door.

He has been with them for seven years. And even though he lives in Tampa, Herman A. Edwards refers to his mail route in the Old Southeast as his home.

"I just sleep in Tampa," said Herman, 54, while making his rounds one recent afternoon. "This is where I live, right on the ground."

These days, Herman's ground is shifting. Along with nearly 300,000 other mail carriers across the nation, Herman's route is being restructured to save money. In a neighborhood where shuttered homes do not go unnoticed and crime patterns are closely watched, the news that Herman might be gone spread swiftly.

In their online discussion group, Old Southeast residents railed against the possibility of Herman's removal. Someone noted that he is a fellow Steelers fan, another that their mail more than once got lost on his day off. One writer suggested starting a collection for their departing mailman. David Shafer, a neighborhood association board member, called for a Save Our Mailman campaign.

"Our neighborhood is a little different than many in these days of rapidly shifting jobs and loyalties in that we really look out for each other," Shafer wrote to the postal service. "Herman is considered a very important part of the Old Southeast because he knows us and looks out for us. He has built up many positive relationships because we know he cares. This is, of course, a rare attitude. Please do not take Herman away from us."

Their letters and phone calls poured into the Midtown post office, but little could be done.

It turns out, Herman isn't going so far after all. Beginning Saturday, his route will shed several streets while gaining nearly twice as many in surrounding neighborhoods to the south and west. What streets he may lose — Bay Street SE, Beach Street SE, and 18th Avenue S are likely — will be picked up by a mail carrier on an adjacent route.

Postal officials say the changes are brought about by dwindling first class mail, including fewer mailings of glossy catalogues and credit card offers, and increasing use of the Internet for bill paying and commerce. First class mail volume has not been this low since 1964. This year, there are expected to be 30 billion fewer pieces of first class mail than in 2006, said Gary Sawtelle, a spokesman for the postal service. The rising cost of fuel is another factor.

The changes come with the blessing of the National Association of Letter Carriers. Through retirements, reassignments and closed vacancies, the postal service will slash 24 of its 480 letter carrier positions in Pinellas county without costing anyone their job, said Joe Henschen, executive vice president of the west coast Florida branch of the union.

Even Herman agrees that the changes wrought by this economy are inevitable. "I call this collateral damage," he said. "Changes have to be made."

Luckily, Herman is used to change. Some on his route know that he's an Air Force veteran who was stationed for years in Anchorage, Alaska. "When you been in about 50 to 60 below zero, it can't get hot enough," he joked recently.

Herman will miss his old streets, where the dogs don't bark as loudly anymore and he knows to peek in on home-bound elderly residents.

"It was very rewarding for me to know that they cared that much," Herman said of the campaign to keep him. "I think the things I'll miss the most is the kids I saw seven years ago. Now, they're about my height."

This week, along with the mail delivery, there will be good-byes.

Luis Perez can be reached at or (727) 892-2271.

Beloved letter carrier's mail route changes, despite effort in Old Southeast 07/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 4:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle