Taylorsville resident Larry Keller hangs up his USPS mailbag after 43.5½ yearsAug 07, 2022 08:33PM ● By Carl Fauver
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Back when your dad or your grandpa was buying U.S. postage stamps – in 1978, to be exact – they cost 15 cents each. There were no “Forever” stamps back then. When stamp prices jumped to 18 cents, granddad had to buy a bunch of the new ones… and COUNT how many 15 centers he still had around, so he could buy that many 3-cent stamps to marry them together on his next few letters. After all, every penny counted – something he tried to teach you.
That was all back in our pre-email, pre-cell phone, Jimmy-Carter-in-the-White-House world. And that’s when Taylorsville resident Larry Keller delivered United States Postal Service letters and packages for the first time – December 30, 1978 to be exact.
A month ago – June 30, again, to be exact – was the last time Larry did it… 43.5 years later.
The USPS’s unofficial motto is: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” From age 37 to 80, Keller lived that motto. And, truth be told, delivering mail was not even his only long-term career.
“After graduating from Olympus High School in 1960, I soon went to work for the Glade Candy Company,” Keller said. “I was with them for 16 years, from 1962 to 1978. But the pay was a little better to switch to the postal service. And I really liked the idea of working outside. So, I made the move.”
Just a few months before starting his USPS career in December 1978, Larry and Karren moved into what is now Taylorsville City, in May of that year.
“Karren was a year behind me at Olympus (graduating in 1961),” Larry said. “We were friends in high school, but did not start dating until we were both out. We married in 1965.”
All four of their children, two sons and two daughters, are Taylorsville High School graduates. Two of the four are also University of Utah graduates. They all still live relatively close, so Larry and Karren get to see their 11 grandchildren regularly. Their first great grandchild is due next month.
Although the Kellers have been in their same Taylorsville home all these 44 years, Larry has never delivered one single letter in the city.
“I have always delivered mail in the Holladay area,” Keller explained. “My parents lived over there. Particularly after my dad died, it was nice to be able to check in on my mom while delivering there. I had several different routes over the years. For much of my career, I worked six days a week.”
For the record, Larry was not required to do that. He loved the overtime pay.
“I started with the Post Office at $7.25 per hour,” he added. “By the time I retired, it was about $32 per hour. I enjoyed it – and getting exercise walking was something I also liked.”
Here on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley, nearly all of us have to walk out to our curbside mailbox. But in Holladay, there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of homes that have mailboxes attached to their outside wall, right next to the front door. For Keller, that meant a lot of door-to-door walking, through January snow and July heat.
“The length of my delivery route fluctuated over the years,” Larry added. “Typically, it was about 200 homes and maybe 110 businesses. Of those 200 residential deliveries, maybe 60 of them had curbside mailboxes. So, I was walking up to about 140 homes per day. I went through two or three pairs of shoes each year.”
In all those years walking about, Keller reports being bitten by a dog “only” three times, none causing serious injury. He says he never witnessed a crime or had anyone greet him at their door less than completely dressed.
“I wore a step counter for awhile and counted 13,000 to 14,000 steps per day,” he explained. “I like that because, years ago I used to run quite a bit. When I was younger, I entered four or five marathons. But I must admit, the last few years I have not had the energy I had in the past. My wife has been encouraging me to retire for years. This spring, I knew it was time.”
That wife of 57 years, Karren, couldn’t be happier.
“I am very relieved and grateful he’s finally retired,” she said. “I have lots of honey-dos for him. We also like camping and fishing. And I would like to visit New Zealand.”
Sounds like more moving about lies ahead for Larry Keller, though most of it will no longer be by foot – with a heavy bag hanging off his shoulder.