Mail delivers letter-perfect day to Ellicott City teen

August 25, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Sun Staff Writer

Letter carrier Madge Jones has known Chris Schoenbrodt since the Ellicott City boy was a toddler. Six months ago, the 15-year old, who has Down syndrome, told her he wanted to be a letter carrier, too.

"I thought 'wow,' " said Ms. Jones, who would meet the boy's school bus as she made her afternoon rounds. "This little one wants to be like me."

Yesterday, Chris got his wish.

Wearing an official blue "U.S. Mail" cap and satchel, Chris accompanied Ms. Jones as she delivered mail on Ligon Street, stopping first at his house to deliver an assortment of letters and notices.

"It's fun," said Chris, who likes to play postal carrier at home, collecting the family's mail in a brown paper bag, sorting and distributing it. "I like to read the names."

For Chris, who will attend a special education program at Atholton High School this fall, yesterday's event was a dream come true.

"He really likes to do jobs to help people," said Chris' mother, Sandy Schoenbrodt. "He really has enjoyed the importance of delivering mail to us. This is just the icing on the cake."

Chris became enchanted with delivering mail, Mrs. Schoenbrodt said, after watching a friend at Clarksville Middle School distribute mail to teachers.

Soon Chris began peppering Ms. Jones with questions about her job and the jeep she drives on her rounds.

"Chris is a perfectionist," Ms. Jones said. "He asked me about this knob and that." Within a short time, "he knew everything he wanted to about the truck."

So when Chris expressed his desire to become a postal carrier, Ms. Jones asked Ellicott City Postmaster Marlin B. Johnson, who approved the special delivery.

"I was all for it, especially when she explained the circumstances leading up to the request," Mr. Johnson said.

As he walked the route yesterday, Chris was greeted by family and friends with letters in their hands. Leaning against their car, Charles and Spring Walton waited for Chris to pick up a small envelope from them.

"He loves Madge," Ms. Walton said of Chris. "He always talks about her."

Chris' father, Dr. Frederick Schoenbrodt, also gave his son two letters as he zipped by in his car during a break from work. "Thanks, Dad," Chris said, gently tucking the envelopes into his bag.

Neighbors said he looked like a pro.

"He took some [mail] from us and put down the flag carefully," said Jason Baker who was working in his garage with his 9-year-old son, Matt.

And just like any real-life mail carrier, he got a complaint -- this one from Matt, who was disappointed that his issue of Nickelodeon magazine hadn't arrived.

"Go talk to him about it," Matt's father suggested, pointing to Chris. Matt declined.

After walking a block, Chris headed back home where Ms. Jones' jeep was parked. With some assistance, he buckled himself in the driver's seat, waving happily to a bevy of television cameras, reporters and postal officials.

Ms. Jones, whose route, as of three weeks ago, no longer includes Chris' street, said she misses the family and her daily visit with Chris.

"I found a home here," she said. "These people are like family to me after 12 years."

Chris, who gave Ms. Jones a hug and a pat on the back after delivering the mail, said he is ready to take on some new challenges. He wants to deliver mail to the teachers and staff at his new school. He also wants to be a meteorologist or, maybe, a police officer.

But his mother is urging him to take it slow.

"Let's stick with being a mailman," she said. "That's special for today."

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