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Newspaper Archive of
Shelton Mason County Journal
Shelton, Washington
Mason County Journal
News of Mason County, WA
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July 31, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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July 31, 2014
 

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Thursday, July 31, 2014 - Mason County Journal - Page A-15 OF A KIND , George Vocke, right, delivers mail to Stephanie Ware and her son, Brody Huffman, Small Town Papers on Cota Street. Vocke has been a mail carrier for 30 years, much of it in Shelton. ? CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE "It used to be a lot of letters, now we deliver a lot more of people's medicines," he said. "We deliver tons of packages ... we deliver people's dog food. You can order everything." In the 1980s, credit card offers became daily mail items for many people, he said. While he rarely knows what is in the pack- ages, Vocke said some of the strangest parcels he delivers are human ashes sent through the mail by funeral homes. The mail business has also become more au- tomated, he said. "When I started we had seven people sorting letters," he said. Now a machine sorts most letters, he said, but carriers still deliver the mail by hand. "It's hard to find a job anymore that you can do for 30-some years that hasn't been down- sized," he said. Vocke has dealt with cold weather and heavy rain while walking his route in Shelton, but said it's nothing compared to the time he spent living in Idaho, where he said the tem- perature was once. 27 degrees below zero for a week. "Compared to other places in the country, (Shelton's) not bad," he said. Mail carriers are all required to carry pep- per spray in case they encounter an aggressive dog, but Vocke said he has had few negative encounters. One of the few, he said, was when a dog chained to its owner's front porch tried to chase him. The chain held strong, but the porch didn't fare so well. Vocke said he remembers see- ing the dog dragging the porch's railing as it "It used to be a lot of letters, now we deliver a lot more of people's medicines. We deliver tons of packages ... we deliver people's dog food. You can order anything." lunged after him. Most interactions with dogs are positive though, he said. "In Aberdeen, there was this Labrador that used to follow me every day," he said. "People thought it was my dog." If he hadn't worked for the Postal Service all these years, Vocke said he would have liked to work for the Washington state Parks Depart- ment. "When I first came here I climbed lots of mountains," he said. "I climbed Mount Rain- ier twice but (there was) 25 years between the two times." Vocke grew up on the East Coast near New York City -- a completely different environ- ment from the one he now calls home. "It's hard to explain to people how crowded it is," he said. After living in Idaho, Florida and other states, Vocke came to Washington, and said it's his favorite of the places he's lived. When he took the test to become a mail car- rier, he had a choice of working in Redmond or Shelton. He chose Shelton. "I wanted to live in a little town," he said. "I like it out here, I really do." Unlike his route through the streets of downtown, Shelton has seen a number of changes in the past 30 years, he said. When he first started delivering mail for the post office, downtown Shelton had more retail stores, houses and apartment buildings he said. Only a few businesses have remained consistent over the years, he said. "First Street used to be full of gas stations," he said. "There were like seven gas stations on First and Railroad (Avenue)." Vocke plans to retire in September 2015, but he said he thinks personalized service and door-to-door delivery will always be a part of the Postal Service. "I think it's important," he said. "Businesses are thriving on personal service. I think overall there is a business plan that would include personal service."