Gail Breneman has some stories from her 37-year career with the Vandalia Post Office — though, she said some are a bit too caustic to share.
Breneman officially retired from the United States Postal Service on Wednesday, February 27 — her 70th birthday.
“It seems like a good day to quit,” she said.
One story Breneman doesn’t mind sharing is that of Bob Smith’s pal Gyper.
At the dawn of her postal career, Breneman carried the mounted route with Gyper — the office’s own mail dog.
The two would pack into the Jeep with mail in tow and go about the delivery route.
“(Gyper) would ride in the Jeep on bad days and run alongside the Jeep on good days,” Breneman said. “If he got sidetracked on the route — went off to chase another dog — he knew where you would be next. He would be there waiting for you.”
Gyper was a patriot. After an aggressive dog on the route came out to pick a fight one day, “Gyper jumped out of the Jeep to protect our mail,” Breneman said.
A terrible fight ensued.
“Finally, I stepped out of the Jeep and realized I had rolled over the aggressive dog’s tail. I had him pinned down,” she said. “It was a good day for Gyper. He won all of his fights that day.”
After about a year, Breneman retired from Jeep deliveries of the mounted route and moved to the office.
During that time, Breneman said another fond memory was the early Christmas days.
She recalled how Post Office personnel was challenged to figure out which grandma and grandpa Christmas packages went to, being addressed at times merely to granny and papa. An in route two, the task can be a challenge.
“There’s lots of grannies and papas in route two,” Breneman said, noting the route covers the entire northern section of the town and country.
“Because we are a small town, so many of us know so many people since we grew up together,” she said. “We all put our heads together and figured out were the packages went.”
“In a small town, you tend to know everybody and everybody knows you,” she said. “The people have made it a very pleasant place to work.”
When Breneman started in October 1975, she said she was one of the first women in the office.
“The guys were all super nice, super helpful,” she said. “If I did something wrong, someone would help me out. The camaraderie in our office is exceptional.”
For at least the rest of February, Breneman said her retirement aims include a comfortable bath robe and some good books. Though, projects are starting to pile in.
She plans to help her husband, Leroy, with the Coast to Coast Garden Center at Breneman and Ennis True Value, as well as some landscaping of her own.
“I have lots and lots of landscaping planned. I’ll bee doing that. I will be able to read a book — I’m sure,” Breneman said.