He’s going to miss seeing the people along his route the most.
After 47 years delivering mail around Tamarack, Bill Onstad retired.
Onstad was born in Aberdeen, Wash., in 1920. His parents died when he was 7. After spending three years in an orphanage, he was adopted by his mother’s cousin who lived in Tamarack.
After graduating from McGregor High School, and being turned down by the military, he began driving big trucks, mostly hauling pulpwood for a company in Orr, then one in Tofte.
When he married Doris Anderson in 1949, she didn’t want to live in Tofte so they moved to Tamarack where they raised six children.
Onstad owned his own trucking business until 1965. He began delivering mail in 1969.
In about 1980, Onstad was hired as a part-time weed inspector for Aitkin County, and held that job for 27 years.
“One year, a woman called me in an outrage over the amount of dandelions,” Onstad recalled. “I told her she couldn’t spend enough money to get rid of them.”
The woman didn’t like his answer and asked, “Well, what should I do?”
Onstad replied, “They tell me they make good wine.”
The Model T
Onstad’s nephew discovered a 1926 Model T in 1996 and they got it “for a heck of a deal.”
He still has the car, but has to fix the aftermath of forgetting to drain the block one winter.
According to Pete Nowacki of the U.S. Postal Service, “Bill Onstad is a Highway Contract Route (HCR) driver who serves approximately 100 customers on a 45-mile route out of Tamarack. HCR drivers are independent contractors, not postal employees.”
For the last 47 years, Onstad worked from 7-11 a.m. six days a week.
“My favorite part is seeing people,” he said.
“I just wasn’t making enough money when expenses are up to keep doing it,” he said.
Nowadays, he’s cleaning his yard. He plans another trip to see his sister, Phyllis Pierce, in Washington, who is 94.
And he gets attention from his six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Except that he lost his wife in 1992, “I’ve had a good life,” he said.