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  • The rose bush was smaller then and so the little house appeared larger.

    Russell, was the mailman, he ran the daily mail boat and back then was the last Gott on Gotts Island.
    He was a short man with tall boots.
    The high boots were rolled down when the tide was favorable and he could pull up to the float.
    The boots were pulled up thigh high when he waded through the low tide pools in the harbor, or walked across the back beach channel when he had to moor his boat out there.

    Time and tide waits for no man but Russ, Russell, Russy made a go of it.

    “Never missed a goddamned day in goddamned 44 years,” he said, just the same as his Father before him.

    Remember that day when an early storm blew the ocean high into mad waves?
    Russell and E in the skiff, disappearing into the bottom of every wave trough as we watched from shore.
    Him in his oilskin raincoat, fisherman yellow with the matching hat dissapearing and reappearing.
    Nothing would keep him from his appointed rounds.

    Remember how no one could touch the mailbag except Russ?
    “The goddamned government gave ME the goddamned authority to carry the goddamned United States Mail.” he said in a broaugh that needed subtitles.

    The suspense was agonizing for me, a child, waiting for the boat to arrive.
    I ran down the hill as the boat came around the back beach.
    Was I going to be late?
    Would there be a letter for me today?
    I ran only to wait while the ritual of Island manners meant small clusters of people talking.
    Then came the ritual of unloading the boat, carrying groceries and waiting for the Mail Bag.
    Russell in his high boots, rough beard and potbelly holding the canvas sack looked like a summer Santa.
    He opened the bag and dumped out the letters, a pile of letters that he sorted and set into wood slots or handed to those of us waiting for our mail.

    Russell had two dogs, both beagles, named Rebel and Mary A.
    Rebel roamed free over the Island and could howl a mournful song in the beagle tradition.
    Mary A was obese and we called her the watermelon dog.
    She could not climb a set of stairs but the big boat was named after her.
    Russell lived alone, but for the 2 dogs, in a small cabin on the shingle beach.

    It was discovered late in life that his heart had an open valve and the Mayo clinic was so interested in his case that they did the operation to close it for free. The neighbors flew him there and back.

    There are other stories, some darker stories, of his life out on the Islands in the years when most people were gone and the country was younger and depressed.

    But those stories are not mine to tell.
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