Quick, what’s the zip code in Janesville? Easy, 56048. How about Pensacola? No problem, 32514. How about Ocala, Homestead and Weston?
Alfreda “Freda” Felton of the Miami Springs post office knows those, too. Hired in 1978, Freda developed something of a mental directory of area postal information through the course of 35 years of service.
As she stood at her counter waiting for the next in line to walk up with their packages, Dick Bergen gave her, her final mail call.
Freda has gone non-postal! Thursday, Jan. 31 was the last day of work for her at the Miami Springs Post Office and her colleagues really will miss her. In addition, her customers won’t see Freda’s smiling face at the counter anymore.
She started at the Miami General Mail Facility in 1978 at what she then thought was an awesome wage of $7.15 per hour. She worked as a sorter. Her activities consisted of sorting mail into the right bins for dispatch from 5 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. 6 days a week, 10 hours per day.
Freda stayed at the main post office for eight years before she applied to transfer to Miami Springs. She said it felt really good. She was able to do what she was supposed to do as a mother for her son, Lontell.
“It was my dad, brother and sister-in-law that brought me to the post office,” she said with a smile. “It was a family thing.”
Freda said she enjoyed the job because the customers were pleasant. “You’re doing a nice service for them,” she said.
“It’s a long day standing on your feet. You have to do something that’s not going to make you feel tired, so I chose to make my work friendly and fun. It’s really exciting meeting people and chatting with the regulars.”
Freda has the temperament to deal with all those questions about mailing packages and assist unprepared customers. Is this going out today? What time do you close? What time do you open? You open on Saturdays? How long does it take for a box to get to New York? How long does it take for international? Can I get the cheapest fast?
From the holiday lines to tax returns to the IRS, Freda has seen it all.
Freda’s trademark was her nail and hair care. She was affectionately called “Nail lady” and “Lady with the pretty hairdos” by many of her customers.
Freda estimated she saw up to 50 faces every day. Taken over 250 workdays per year for 35 years, Freda saw 437,500 faces.
She was offered a bonus for eligible employees for an early retirement by Jan. 31.
“My job at Miami Springs lasted for 27 (of her 35) years,” she said. “It was a long journey and I thank God that everything turned out wonderful.”
It will be nice not having to work, she said. Freda plans to keep herself busy with her family and travel. She has been blessed with four grandchildren.
As her retirement day drew near, her colleagues spread the word out to the Miami Springs customers.
The Miami Springs council presented Freda with a Certificate of Recognition for her 27 years of service at the Miami Springs postal branch. Family and friends gave her a round of applause on Jan. 28 at the city council meeting.