<strong>By Jim Bissett and Sarah Marino, The Dominion Post<\/strong>\r\n\r\nMORGANTOWN \u2014 Mark Cappellini grinned when he saw the festooned mail truck.\r\n\r\n\u201cIs today it?\u201d he asked. \u201cAre you really doing it, this time?\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cSure am,\u201d Patty Cress said. \u201cI\u2019ve got the signs to prove it.\u201d\r\n\r\nOne of her granddaughters hand-lettered the signs, which were affixed to the U.S. Postal Service vehicle.\r\n\r\n\u201cFinally, my retirement has been delivered,\u201d read the one in front.\r\n\r\n\u201cPatty\u2019s Farewell Tour,\u201d announced the other from the back.\r\n\r\n\u201cWell, you know we\u2019re gonna miss you,\u201d Brenda Cappellini said.\r\n\r\nThe husband and wife are on Cress\u2019 mail route in the Suncrest area.\r\n\r\nCress has run the route for more than 20 years.\r\n\r\nThe Cappellinis have lived on the route for more than 20 years.\r\n\r\n\u201cShe watched our kids grow up,\u201d Brenda Cappellini said.\r\n\r\n\u201cShe\u2019s seen our cars when they had dents in the fenders after our kids started learning how to drive.\u201d\r\n\u201cYeah, and she\u2019s seen the yard when it\u2019s shabby and full of dandelions,\u201d added Mark Cappellini, who was mowing that day.\r\n\r\nThen, the couple did something else. They presented the mail carrier with an envelope addressed to her. It was a thank-you card for her service.\r\n\r\nLike the signs on the truck said, Cress really is retiring.\r\n\r\n<strong>\u2018You get to know\u00a0your people\u2019<\/strong>\r\n\r\nWednesday was the final postmark in a 44-year career. Next up: Trips across the country to see her kids and across the Atlantic Ocean to visit her grandmother\u2019s relatives in Italy.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve been threatening to do this for years,\u201d Cress said, as she continued dropping mail through slots and in boxes.\r\n\r\nRetirement, that is.\r\n\r\nWhich is\u00a0what Mark Cappellini was getting at.\r\n\r\nHe and his wife said they\u2019ll really miss the mail carrier for her nurturing presence. She once called an ambulance for a man on her route who collapsed and went into a diabetic coma.\r\n\r\nShe called the police on another man she\u2019d never seen along her route who was photographing houses in the middle of the day.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou get to know your people,\u201d Cress said.\r\n\r\nThe mail carrier, who grew up in Morgantown, graduated from the former St. Francis Catholic High School. She attended college briefly, and soon found herself married, with three young children.\r\n\r\nThen, she found herself divorced, with three young children.\r\n\r\nShe needed a job with a decent paycheck and benefits. A civil service job fit the bill.\r\n\r\n<strong>\u2018A man\u2019s job\u2019 \u2026 (and other pranks)<\/strong>\r\n\r\nIn the Aquarian year of 1969, she got hired by the Morgantown Post Office.\r\n\r\nIt wasn\u2019t all hippie peace and love, she remembered.\r\n\r\nSome of her co-workers, in fact, were hostile to the idea of a woman working shoulder-to-shoulder with them.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey said, \u2018If she wants a man\u2019s job, she has to be able to do a man\u2019s work,\u2019\u201d Cress remembered. In this case, that meant a diminutive woman wrestling with 100-pound sacks of mail.\r\n\r\nAnd boxes brimming with products from Avon and catalogue items from Sears.\r\n\r\nIt meant missing school plays and other events, since the mail must go through, and one doesn\u2019t dare call off.\r\n\r\nBut, it also meant steady work \u2014 even if she had to sue once for harassment, a case she won.\r\n\r\nAnd as the chauvinism subsided,\u00a0 things got better.\r\n\r\nNow, the only barbs she gets are good-natured ones, concerning her age.\r\n\r\nCress is looking forward to her 71st birthday next month. She doesn\u2019t address herself as \u201cold,\u201d by any means, but she is one of the more senior members of the Morgantown Post Office.\r\n\r\nForget wisdom. In her work-world, age is accompanied by pranks.\r\n\r\nWhich is why she howled with laughter during one of her birthday parties a couple of years back.\r\n\r\nHer cake with its lit candles was accompanied by a co-worker with a fire extinguisher, should all those burning fixtures suddenly take an incendiary turn.\r\n\r\nWhile we\u2019re at it, did you know Cress was personally hired for her post office gig by Ben Franklin himself?\r\n\r\nAnd that she hand-fed oats to all the horses resting from their Pony Express routes?\r\n\r\n\u201cThat\u2019s the kind of stuff I\u2019ve been putting up with for years,\u201d she said, laughing.\r\n\r\nPranks, too.\r\n\r\n\u201cI could tell you a lot more stories but you wouldn\u2019t be about to print them in your newspaper,\u201d she said. \u201cI\u2019d have to change the names to protect the guilty.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe prankee tried to pull one on her pranksters Wednesday.\r\n\r\nShe had told her co-workers that May 1 was her last day.\r\n\r\nThey threw a retirement party \u2014 no fire extinguisher, this time \u2014 and everything.\r\n\r\n\u201cThen, I was going to come in this morning with a big speech,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\n\u201cI was gonna tell them I couldn\u2019t leave. Then when they believed me, I was gonna come back with the decorated truck at the end of the day.\u201d\r\n\r\nShe got found out, though.\r\n\r\n\u201cOh, well,\u201d she said. \u201cWhat are you gonna do?\u201d\r\n\r\n<strong>Special delivery<\/strong>\r\n\r\nJust the stellar job she\u2019s always done, said Brian Clayton, a fellow mail carrier who helps her with the bigger packages she mostly delivers along Collins Ferry Road.\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s what he did Wednesday.\r\n\r\nHe idled his mail truck next to her mail truck and asked, \u201cDoes this mean I only get one day when I retire?\u201d\r\n\r\nClayton delivered well-wishes also.\r\n\r\n\u201cOh, yeah, Patty,\u201d he said. \u201cBest mail carrier ever. Write that down.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cSlowest mail carrier ever,\u201d snorted John Cavalier, her St. Francis classmate who lives a couple of houses down from the Cappallenis.\r\n\r\n\u201cShe\u2019s too busy talking to people. It\u2019s gonna take her two days to get this route done.\u201d\r\n\r\nCress, a few more houses down now, was laughing and handing over mail to another neighbor, who, in turn, offered a hug and an envelope.\r\n\r\nCall it a special delivery of thanks.