Whistling Mailman Retires
Article by David Boe
Long time Portland mailman Tom Esau is retiring at the end of July. Beloved in the neighborhood for his kindness and friendly demeanor, Tom is especially well known as the whistling mailman. For the last 20+ years, Tom has cheerfully delivered the mail to Sylvan area residents, often whistling while he worked as he navigated his mail truck through the neighborhood.
Tom has a remarkable whistle, although he is the first to admit that he is not a trained musician. He began whistling many years ago as a way to pass the time while delivering along his residential route. On calm summer afternoons the cheerful sound of his resonant whistle could actually echo across the canyon, a gentle, pleasant sound with an almost bird like quality that could often be heard more than a half mile away.
You always knew when he was around. Which carried with it the hopeful possibility of a warm, welcome letter from home, an exotic postcard from a far off destination, a birthday card from an old friend. When delivered by a smiling gentleman with such cheerful musical accompaniment, even the bills became less bothersome.
He gave the neighborhood a certain innocence, like something out of a bygone era.
In thanks for his many years of joyful service, several neighbors teamed up to present him with a special gift. A very official-looking (but clearly fake) diploma was created with the help of a talented local graphic designer, placed in a beautiful frame, and presented to Tom by a half dozen of his clients at the annual neighborhood block party.
The diploma, from Trump University, conveyed to Tom the prestigious title of “Doctor of Going Postal,” presented to him after shaking hands with the assembled neighborhood luminaries, all of whose mail he had faithfully delivered for so many years.
Tom later said that he was tremendously appreciative of the gesture, and deeply moved by the recognition. Although the diploma itself was fake, the sentiments behind it could not have been more real.