Birthdays are almost always good days, but for Cheryl Brewer, March 27 included a very special present — the rest of her non-working life.
For the past 30 years, Brewer has delivered mail in the City of Santa Monica and she said regardless of rain, dogs, traffic, population growth or excessive campaign literature she loved the job. Not only did the work pay her bills, it helped her start a family.
Cheryl met her husband, Elbert, on the job. For him, it was love at first sight, a feat even more remarkable given she wasn’t actually in the room at the time.
“I was in a safety video about picking up packages and when he saw that he said, ‘I’m going to make her my wife,'” she said.
He eventually found an excuse to talk to her in person — he brought her the satchel she used to carry letters. The two talked, hit it off and eventually has kids, Ezra and Nicole.
“It was a very good place for me to work,” she said. “The people were so nice. We work very, very hard, but they always acknowledged us.”
She saw a lot in her three decades of delivery, working out of several locations, including the now-defunct facility on Main Street, the Will Rogers facility until it caught fire and eventually the building on 11th Street and Colorado Avenue. She saw her personal routes increase from 500 addresses a day to 1,500, a paradoxical result of declining mail volumes as the Post Office combined routes. She eventually covered more than 23 city blocks.
“There was a major change in the election year,” she said. “We had so much election mail, I worked until 12:30 a.m. carrying mail with a light on my head. In 2014 we literally had to have carriers from other offices come in to case and carry mail.”
She described the end of her mail career as bittersweet. While she is excited to move on to her next chapter, she said she will miss her clients — so much so that she wanted to let everyone on her route know about her departure.
“I really wanted to get a last letter to the people I delivered to, to let them know I retired,” she said. “I watched people grow up, go to college, and when they come home, they still say ‘hello’ and talk to me. I really do love that. It’s been so special to watch the young men grow up.”
She raised her family in Santa Monica and said she valued the experience of working at the Post Office but she is ready for what comes next.
“This is a new chapter of life for me,” she said. “I was always the carrier with style and I’m getting into Fashion right now.”
She is participating in a fashion show at El Camino College (16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance) on April 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and she said any of her Santa Monica friends are welcome to attend.
She said she is active in the Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church (5300 Denker Ave., Los Angeles), where she sings in the choir.
Outside her interest in fashion, she said retired life is allowing for more time with her husband.
“We’re just enjoying each other and church,” she said. “My life is still fun.”