“I was walking up the sidewalk and a family was taking wedding pictures on the front lawn. They said, 'C'mon, Mike--we want you in a picture,'” he remembers with a laugh. “I said, 'You don't need your mailman in your wedding pictures!'”
Though he passed on the photo op, it was a poignant moment: he'd been delivering mail to the bride's home since she was eight years old.
All the carriers I followed walk at a brisk pace, but Bellaire is the fastest, despite his small stature and extra weight. And the route he's walked since 1988 isn't short: “When the weather's good, my route's about eight and a half miles. I've clocked it. When the snow's like this”--he points to a two-foot-high snowbank--“I figure it's closer to twelve.”
His route is across Plymouth from the former Pfizer complex. The 1970s-vintage homes vary in style but have common features: brick-and-aluminum exteriors, attached garages, fake shutters on the windows, and--in the winter--sleds on the porches and snow angels in the yards.
“The neighborhood has changed a bit with Pfizer closing. I had a few people move out. But we have a lot of U-M hospital employees and quite a few retirees. There have al-ways been a lot of kids in the neighborhood.”