Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 4, 2014

Mailmen cope with frigid conditions

Tony Huffman
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — For Gratton Toliver, the challenge of severe winter weather is delivering the mail.

But Toliver, who has worked construction for 27 years before delivering mail for 15, doesn’t shy away from the cold weather or hard work.

Thursday night, however, was the first time in his postal career he and other carriers were unable to finish delivering the day’s mail because of snow-covered walkways and bitter cold.

“This weather is inconvenient,” said Toliver, joking that there are other choice words he could use to describe it. “I’ve talked to mail delivery guys when I was on vacation in Hawaii, and they say they wouldn’t give up their job for the world.”

Toliver battles the weather with a pair of spikes on his shoes for ice and a good pair of thermal underwear for cold.

“Of course, I wear long underwear,” he said.

At 60, Toliver says he is at a point in his life where “I can’t afford to fall.”

“I can feel this weather in my bones,” he said, adding he plans to carry mail for two more years.

The snowy walkways are an obstacle for the mailman. An average route, which he delivers just east of the post office in Effingham, takes about 6 1/2 hours. With the inclement weather, however, it often takes seven to eight hours to deliver his mail.

“People don’t realize how much walking we do,” he said. “We walk 10 to 12 miles every day, along with steps at most every house.”

For more on the upcoming deep freeze and previous cold records set, see Saturday's print edition.