Hohmann retires after 45-year postal career
Bay City’s Jesse Hohmann sorted stacks of mail last Wednesday before loading his truck for one final trip on his 88-mile route.
The lifetime Bay City resident spent his final day as a rural mail carrier with the town’s post office on Wednesday, June 3 before retiring his nearly 45-year career. This was the same career that started when Hohmann first became a part-time worker at the office, a position he claimed nobody else wanted.
“It was hard to get a part-time person in a small town like this,” said Hohmann, who will turn 66 at the end of June. “They asked a few other people and nobody wanted it.”
Hohmann, who grew up in a house located right behind the post office, said he luckily was able to stick with the USPS and gain full-time employment.
“I thought I’d try it part-time,” he said. “I didn’t think I would get the job permanent, but I lucked out and got it.”
Much has changed in Hohmann’s 40-plus years on the job. Both the length of his rural route and the number of mail boxes he delivers to has grown over his past 45 years on the job.
“When I first started, the route was 62 miles,” Hohmann said. “Now it’s 88 miles. I had 196 boxes, and now I’ve got almost 400 boxes.”
The type of mail delivered by Hohmann has also changed over the course of his career. With the rise of online shopping sites like Amazon, the amount of parcels coming through the mail has increased significantly. The post office also started delivering those packages directly to homes instead of requiring people to pick them up on site.
“I used to get four or five, now I get 30 to 50,” Hohmann said.
Of course, Hohmann has his fair share of stories during a long career. He has been the first to report and arrive to the scene of a handful of structure fires while on the job, and he was stopped on the roads a number of times by winter snowstorms
One day, the Bay City resident drove up to an accident scene where a woman had broken both of her ankles after missing a turn with her vehicle and crashing into a ditch near Esdaile.
“She crawled out of the ditch and was lying in the middle of the road,” Hohmann said. “I happened by, and there was log trucks coming back where she was on the corner. So I couldn’t leave her there, so I threw her in the back of my pickup and brought her on to Esdaile to her sister’s. Then they called the ambulance.”
Hohmann gained the reputation as a reliable mail carrier during the 44-years he was on the Bay City route. Area postmaster Debbi Smith had plenty of good things to say after Hohmann’s retirement.
“He was reliable, he’s fantastic, he’s personable, always on time,” Smith said. “He treats the customers with respect. He’s been reliable for 44 years.”
Aside from his postal service career, Hohmann has found plenty of other work to fill up his free time. Hohmann has worked for a number of years as the sexton of the Bay City cemetery, which includes upkeep and finding where graves should be located. Between his early mornings with the postal service and upkeep duties at the cemetery, Hohmann has had plenty of long days.
“It’s from dark-till-dark, actually,” he said.
Hohmann has been an off-and-on member of the Bay City Village Board since 1981. He was just re-elected to another term this year.
“It ain't too bad,” said Hohmann, who is also a volunteer firefighter with the Ellsworth Fire Department. “We’ve got a meeting once a month. I don’t know, it’s kind of fun.”
But Hohmann will surely have more free-time now that he is done working 44-hours per week at the post office. Part of that time will be spent working in the garage on vintage cars, and he will also spend time at his cabin in northern Wisconsin.
Will Hohmann miss working at the post office?
“I suppose for awhile, but I’ve got enough other jobs to do,” he said.
Hohmann knows he will miss one thing -- interacting with the people he got to know over many years of delivering their mail.
“I’m going to miss my customers,” Hohmann said.