Saying goodbye to the postman of the beloved Society Hill


No one at Lawrence Court could remember a time when postman Charles Powell wasn’t around.

At Powell’s retirement party on Saturday, in a picturesque courtyard in the heart of Society Hill, they tried to reminisce about when Powell started walking the mail route.

10 years? 15 years? 20 years? eternally?

When I asked the guest of honor, he smiled and told me that no, it had only been six times.

But the impression Powell made on those who delivered his mail is testament to his personal touch in an impersonal time.

Was it just to remember everyone’s name and say hello to the children? Or always remember birthdays with cards or leave condolence cards for parents and pets. Or make sure your package is safe and you have found your lost email. Or stop to admire the garden or find out about the book. Or make sure you drop by someone who doesn’t have anyone else every day.

“I always tried to put a little extra in people,” Powell said.

Charles Powell, 67, has spent only six of his nearly 30 years as a postman at Lawrence Court. But he made a big moreMike Newall

Each block has a postman. And some become friendly fixtures. But on a spring Saturday, with cake and cards and cash, nearly 60 people said goodbye and thanked him for doing more than just work.

“He’s more than just a postman,” said Ashley Halsey. “He’s the centerpiece of the neighborhood.”

Powell, 67, joined the Postal Service 29 years ago after serving in the Navy. He spent most of his years walking the Southwestern Philadelphia route he grew up on.

“It was hard,” he said. “Dodge all the gunfire and fight.”

Powell cut an elegant figure in his uniform.He was known as Mr. Charles at Lawrence Court. Or Music Man. Easy for his listening to his jazz, he used to play mail with a little radio in his pouch.

“I heard him coming,” said Rick Herskovitz. “This is great low classical jazz.”

His route – number 637 – covers 3rd and 6th Avenues and about 14 blocks between spruce and pine. And small courts and lanes in between. He greeted new residents by name and kept smiling.

Lawrence Court residents and many other neighbors on the nearby block applauded Saturday as Powell arrived at a party held in the courthouse. was on my arm. He was a few minutes late.

“I wanted to make sure the shift ended first,” he said.

Neighbors stood up one after another and told how Powell welcomed them, cheered them up, and helped them grieve.

Maye Sakharov said she opened her mailbox after her Chihuahua, Mommy Mayhem, died in January and found a card from Powell.

“The world needs more kindness,” she said.

Caitlin Reis nearly burst into tears when she remembered that during the pandemic, Powell checked on her elderly, nearly blind mother daily, picking up and delivering handwritten letters.

“Charles was her connection to the outside world,” Reiss said.

When it came time for him to speak, Powell said it was his pleasure.When the party broke up, he sat in the shade and talked about his plans. that he wants to travel. Palma de Yuca. Barcelona. Paris. I wish my late wife Valerie, who died of cancer last year, was by my side. He never told many of Lawrence Court’s residents about her death.

“It was my therapy,” he said.

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