After more than three decades, Carla Travaille has delivered her last letter and dropped off her last package.
The longtime Escalon Post Office Rural Route 1 mail carrier worked her final day on the route on June 30, entering retirement on July 1.
She will stay busy in retirement, though, having more time to devote to the family winery, but has only good memories of her time working for the postal service in the local community.
Travaille said she started working initially as a substitute for RR4 in January of 1989 with a roughly four hours per day route.
“My youngest daughter was 18 months old,” Travaille remembered. “I worked Saturdays only and drove my own car, sitting on the passenger side, stretching my left leg over the console for gas pedal and brake controls.”
She was trained by Janet La Porte, and then a few months later trained on RR3 as the regular carrier went on medical leave.
She later trained on both RR2 and RR1 and briefly worked as a sub in Ripon before returning to Escalon and working full time.
She became the regular carrier on Rural Route 1 in June of 1997 and has been on that route ever since.
“Best route in my opinion,” Travaille said of the route in the River Road-Sexton-Highway 120 area.
Her mother-in-law, she noted, had been a rural carrier and Travaille enjoyed the work and the gradual change from sub to full-time employee. She said the schedule was one that worked well for her daily routine.
“When I had children, I could get my work done and get home in time to get them from school,” she explained.
She also liked that the work was something that kept her outdoors and she could work independently.
“You have to be very organized,” she added.
When she was initially working on Saturdays, she said that gave her husband plenty of time to bond with their three daughters, as they “had to spend Saturdays with their dad.”
Travaille lives in Ripon and while she briefly subbed there, she said Escalon “is a great office” and she is happy to have spent the bulk of her 32-and-a-half years with the U.S. Postal Service in Escalon.
When she was hoping to get a full-time postal service job, a position opened up in Escalon first, so she was able to jump on the opportunity.
Now, she is looking forward to being more available as a daughter, a grandma and working with her husband Sam in their Dutchman Vineyard winery. You can visit the website for more information, dutchmanvineyard.com.
The daughters have scattered, with one in Clovis, one in Texas and one in Australia.
“There will be some travel in my future,” Travaille said of retirement plans.
Among the biggest changes she has seen, aside from the ‘cluster boxes’ set up in some locations as opposed to individual mailboxes, is the amount of packages and parcels mail carriers now deliver.
“It has gone from maybe having 10 to 20 to deliver in a day to between 80 and 100,” she said.
Her departure from Rural Route 1 will see some shuffling of the rural route carriers, and Travaille said she knows her postal customers will continue to receive great service.
“This is a great community and this is a great place to work,” Travaille added. “My customers are like family, you really go through everything together … the kids are born, they grow up; you see the generations move through.”
And, she said, people do like to share those life happenings.
“To be trusted with those things,” Travaille said, a little overwhelmed with emotion, “you really are woven together.”