It is possible to live in a neighborhood for many years, and not know people whom you regularly see in their yards nearby, or who walk by you on the street. Sometimes we don't even know someone who lives next door!
On Sunday, February 9th, there was a celebration for someone who frequently cuts through such anonymity in neighborhoods, and whose party finally brought neighbors together to become acquainted.
As reported in the February BEE, letter carrier Glenn Forayter was to be celebrated for his fifty years of postal service, and for finding a wedding ring while delivering mail. Thirty-seven of his years on his route in the 97206 zip code have been in Woodstock, where he is known for watching out for the welfare of neighbors, and dispensing treats to dogs (for his own safety, as well as for fun and enjoyment).
THE BEE was among some sixty people at that celebration on Sunday, February 9th, in the All Saints' Episcopal Church Parish Hall, S.E. 41st and Woodstock Boulevard. There, neighbors mingled with people they knew, as well as with others in the neighborhood they'd seen but never actually met.
Although she is not on Forayter's route, Woodstock resident Suzanne Johnson stopped by anyway. She said that, over the years in which she has walked her dog in the neighborhood, Forayter would offer the dog a treat when she encountered him. "Scout would see Glenn two blocks away and start pulling really hard [on his leash] to get towards him!"
But the three Woodstock organizers of Forayter's party are all on his route, and in fact live within three blocks of each other: Sara Kirschenbaum, Mary Frazel, and Gail Gutzler.
Kirschenbaum made cookies in the shape of envelopes. She also baked cookies resembling Forayter in his shorts (which he wears while delivering mail, even in the coldest weather). Gutzler created a poster-sized postcard with his 97206 route shown in outline, as well as smaller cards on which attendees could write a note for the mailman. Their printing was free, as a donation from the Woodstock UPS Store.
The three organizers also received in-kind donations from Grand Central Bakery, Safeway, the Woodstock Laundromat, Dick's Kitchen and Primal Burger, Portland Fish Company, First Cup Coffee, Delta Café, and Otto's Meats and Sausages.
The guest of honor, Glenn Forayter, there in his ever-present Bermuda shorts, was hugged and congratulated by people ranging from those for whom he has delivered mail over the years, to those he's done so for just a short time. Gutzler remarked after the party, "I want to point out that Glenn is pretty modest, and was a good sport about letting us throw the party once Sara hatched the idea. I don't think he seeks out the spotlight, but he was very gracious."
Many attending the party asked to see Kirschenbaum's ring – which Forayter had noticed in her yard and retrieved for her, after she had lost it while gardening. Kirschenbaum's spouse was not able to be there, as she was working.
As the four o'clock ending of the party neared, the sun broke through outside the church, after ten days of gloom, and lit up the large Parish Hall – a bright touch added to the celebration of a mailman's kindness, and of neighbors breaking through anonymity. The gathering, reflected organizers and attendees alike, had helped them realize how even such simple social functions can help knit a community together.
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