Before joining the post office, I was a dogcatcher for the City of Detroit, Bellaire recalls. At the time there was a residency requirement. My kids were little, and we were leery about having them outside playing. His two boys are grown now, and he and his wife, Sue, live in Plymouth.
Carrying mail to the same neighborhood has given Bellaire unexpected insights. I learn a whole lot of things that they don't know I know, he says. You see the deaths, the new families move in, the elderly move away, because all of a sudden it's just one lady living by herself and she's in her early eighties.
With twenty-four years of service in the post office, Bellaire will be eligible to retire in six years. I figure I'll finish on this route, he says. I know everybody; I've got three hundred and twenty-eight houses' worth of friends.
[Originally published in March, 2009.]