Glenn Forayter was inspired at a very early age to be a letter carrier. His inspiration was the mailman who came to his house in Oregon City each day – where his family had moved, from Woodstock, while he was in fifth grade.
Of that letter carrier, Forayter says, "I really admired him. He was a very nice man who walked up and down from the falls to the Canemah Bluffs. He didn't use a vehicle. It was strenuous."
Consequently, Forayter took the postal test right after graduating from Oregon City High School, and started working for the USPS when he turned eighteen. But his career there was interrupted by military service during the Vietnam War.
As a Marine veteran who had to kill people in Vietnam, letter carrier Glenn Forayter was tormented and full of rage, when he returned to Oregon and resumed delivering mail.
At that time in the 1980s he didn't have the seniority to have his own route, so he delivered in a variety of neighborhoods. He describes himself back then as "A good heathen, and an angry man."
His postal superintendent and people on his route didn't know the turmoil that was buried deep inside him. "In the 1980's, I wanted to kill people. I said it under my breath." He didn't, of course; and he is altogether a different man now.
Having worked for the U.S. Postal Service for fifty years, his delivery route today is #4 in Woodstock, in the 97206 ZIP Code. And these days he has been fully freed from that long-ago rage and frustration – which ruled his life over thirty years ago.
"I was filled with fear. Fear that I would never find a wife and have children," he confides. His fear lasted many years, until he found peace by immersing himself in religion. He describes his transformation as "having found the Prince of Peace". And, on his postal route, he met the woman who became his wife.
"She used to part the curtains and peek at me from the window," he recalls. "She wondered if I were married or not." Now he has step-great-grandchildren in Vancouver, Washington, and again is living near to where he grew up until 4th grade – on S.E. 51st and Duke Street, in the Woodstock neighborhood.
After nearly a year off from delivering the mail in ZIP 97206, due to a knee injury, Forayter returned to his route this past December – and now is a little anxious about a neighborhood celebration that is planned for him, coming up on Sunday, February 9th.
"I am a little embarrassed, to tell you the truth," he reflects. Humbled by his past, and heartened by his current life filled with relating to people ("I like people") – and dogs ("I befriend dogs by delivering dog treats") – he has resigned himself to being the focus of the upcoming celebration.
The party is being hosted by Sara Kirschenbaum, a 28-year Woodstock resident who was married for the second time a few years ago, and who has a special reason for appreciating Mr. Forayter: "I lost my wedding ring [while gardening], and was in the 'dog house' because Peggy and I had been married only a year!" she relates. "I went through the entire green recycling bin looking for it!"
The ring is of rose gold, and was designed by Paloma Picasso (Pablo Picasso's daughter; Kirschenbaum is an artist and writer). She had ordered it from Tiffany's. Kirschenbaum says she was about to order a replacement ring, when one day she found it right on her doorstep.
"I'd noticed it in the dirt of the flowerbed at Sara's house, so I knocked on the door and no one answered," remembers letter carrier Forayter. "So I put it on the porch."
That night Kirschenbaum wrote in her gratitude book about her joy at finding the ring, after being without it for a month, and the kindness of the postman – although she was curious about one thing: "How does it feel to find a wedding ring [for marriage] between two women?" Kirschenbaum recently asked Forayter, knowing that his religion probably frowns on gay marriage.
"It doesn't make any difference. I don't judge other people," commented Forayter. "God loves everybody."
Kirschenbaum had long been aware that Forayter is a "very nice man" who looks out after the neighbors on his route. So, she says, "I decided to have a celebration of his fifty years with the Postal Service – because, in our world right now, there is so much division and fighting. Glenn is a role model of kindness and decency. Many people have responded to the idea, saying how much they love and admire him. Some responded not just to attend, but to help organize."
And you're invited too. The party will be held Sunday, February 9th, 2 to 4 p.m., in the Parish Hall of All Saints' Episcopal Church, 41st Avenue at Woodstock Boulevard. There will be fill-in name tags for all who come, and a map of route #4, with pushpins for attendees to indicate where they live. Everyone who admires Forayter is welcome, says Kirschenbaum. People can bring stories of how he has helped or related to them – and to their dogs.
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