Yosemite National Park postmaster retires after 40 years (and a lot of mail) : NPR
Christine Gale Reynolds
Welcome to the new NPR series, where we highlight the people and things that are making headlines – and the stories behind them.
Instead of being chased by aggressive dogs, John Reynolds chose between bears, wolves, and many other creatures (not really, but imagine!)
Who is he? John Reynolds is the postmaster for Yosemite National Park in California, having served for more than 40 years at the Yosemite Post Office and El Portal. This week, he retired.
- Reynolds began his career in the summer of 1978 as a college student. After a casual visit to his mother at work, (who happened to be a 43-year employee of the Yosemite Post Office), he was offered a summer job. Is there a gene for mail?
- A true local (and rare!), Reynolds was born and raised in Yosemite Valley, to parents who both worked in the park.
- He worked various roles at post offices in the area: first as a salesman, and finally as postmaster for the neighboring town of El Portal in 2004. In 2012, he achieved his dream of becoming Postmaster for the Yosemite Post Office, a position he is now retired from.
- John and his wife Christine have lived and raised a family in the area, even residing in the postmaster’s home, a job privilege limited to a handful of US post offices, including Yosemite, Yellowstone and The Grand Canyon
A local legend. You may not know many people from this part of the United States, but John’s impact has been widely felt in his community.
Miole Mccarthy, family friend and Yosemite local, shared this story with us:
“I’m 17 years old and really felt isolated growing up in such a remote area. So for me, one of the highlights of that summer was the release of the final Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling’s Potter, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” I pre-ordered the book online and didn’t realize that the book’s release and shipping dates were on Saturdays, respectively.
Our post office is usually closed to receive packages. I just realized it a few days ago and I am completely devastated. So imagine my surprise when I woke up on Saturday morning and got a call from John, telling me he would be opening the post office in a few hours, so a handful of people Locals who have ordered the book can come and receive their copies. the same day that others in the United States also received theirs. I was so excited I jumped out of bed and immediately ran down to the post office. He said he knows how important this day is to some of us and he’s happy to do it.”
What does he have to say about himself?
“Some of my earliest memories as a salesman, working with the postmaster, are walking down a spot on Highway 140, which is the main entrance to the park. There was a rock slide. And we wanted to get the mail without delay. So the mail truck drove up the road closest to the rock. And we pushed each other across the rocks. I mean, give the trucks. handbag [of mail]. We are jumping over the rocks.
That’s what I’m proud of. Mother Nature, pass and try to get the letter into the park because people trust their mail. People look to the post office and their mail as a normalization.
When mother nature appears, it causes people extreme stress and anxiety. The post office and their mailing give me a feeling I’ve learned over the years, a sense of anchorage, a sense of normalcy.
So I think that’s the biggest pride I take in my job, which is doing it, getting mail in such an isolated place.”
Photo of Ezra Shaw/Getty
So what now?
- First, John and Christine plan to move out of the Postmaster’s house to their own nearby residence.
- Although he has lived in the area all his life, he says there is a lot of countryside that he still wants to explore.
- Then there’s time to enjoy retirement. Reynolds is touring Europe, and John plans to do many road trips, “unencumbered by time schedules”, on his motorcycle.
Want to read about other great people?