At 86, U.P. mailman retires as region changes around him

For a rural mailman, the Upper Peninsula was always his favorite place on earth. But lately, that place has been changing dramatically.

The country postman drove along an empty road through a corridor of trees fringed by wildflowers. The highway was narrow, just one lane going each way, the kind that cuts through the woods all over the Upper Peninsula. It was hot, it was raining and the bugs were biting hard. And he was happy.

“I never get tired of riding around in the forest,” he said, smiling. “There’s nothing like the U.P. It’s such beautiful country. I don’t care to go anyplace else when I retire. I just want to do more right here.”

Ron Curtis is an 86-year-old rural mailman. He’s blind in one eye. His route is 108 miles long because the homes are scattered wide here in the woods of the central U.P. When he makes deliveries, he sits in the center of his own car’s front seat and uses his left foot to hit the gas, his left hand to steer and his outstretched right hand to put mail out the passenger window into roadside mailboxes. He’s worked like this more than eight hours a day, six days a week, for four decades. And now he’s down to his last few rides.


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