By Pat Caldwell
NYSSA — It is a plain white piece of folded paper that displays lines of names.
Next to the names are dates marking the birthdays of members of the Nyssa Church of Latter-day Saints second ward in Nyssa.
The names are important to Glen Frederiksen. That’s because the 89-year-old former Nyssa postman tracks each birthday. When the big day rolls around, Frederiksen makes a phone call and sings or plays a tune to help celebrate.
Now, he will be celebrated.
As he nears his 90th birthday, he will be in the spotlight next month as the grand marshal of the Nyssa Nite Lite Parade. The parade is set for Saturday, Dec. 9.
Frederiksen knows Nyssa.
He walked its streets and learned its people as he delivered mail during a 40-year career with the U.S. Postal Service.
After he retired in 1996, Frederiksen remained a fixture of the community.
The parade honor was a surprise, said Frederiksen.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be in it,” said Frederiksen.
Born in Twin Falls, Idaho, and raised in Kilgore, Frederiksen arrived in Nyssa when he was 22 in 1951. He came to the Thunderegg Capital with his cousin to link up with their friend Blaine Smith.
At the Nyssa movie theater one night, Smith introduced Frederiksen to Eva Lee Drown.
Later that night the four went to a dance in town.
Frederiksen and Drown began to date.
Frederiksen found part-time work at a local ranch and helped at the local sugar factory during the sugar beet season.
He and Drown married in July 1951.
Frederiksen took the civil service exam to become a postal worker in 1956. He wasn’t sure if he would get the job.
“There was another person ahead of me but he didn’t want to work part time. So I got it,” said Frederiksen.
Frederiksen started by sorting mail at the front desk of the Nyssa post office. Occasionally he filled in for letter carriers. He liked the job.
“You usually had a regular day except during Christmas and, with me, I had to go in as a substitute,” said Frederiksen.
He said the best part of his job was working with the public.
“There have been some really good people,” he said.
When Frederiksen began his four-decade-long career with the Postal Service, mail was delivered to Nyssa by train. Twice a day, a postal worker journeyed to the train depot to either drop off outgoing mail or receive in-coming mail.
In 1971, that process shifted when trucks began to transport mail.
Frederiksen worked 23 years as a part-time postal employee then shifted into a fulltime slot in the late 1970s.
His time as a postman – often lugging 70 pounds of mail and packages over 12 miles - wasn’t without its excitement. In his career, Frederiksen was bitten six times by dogs, usually just after he was assured “Oh, my dog is friendly, he won’t bite you.”
To deliver mail to one house at the end of Locust Street, Frederiksen crossed the railroad tracks. Sometimes a train blocked his path. Frederiksen was granted permission by the railroad to climb through railroad cars when the route was blocked. One day, a train hindered his path. Frederiksen climbed through a boxcar, delivered the mail and then, on his way back, stepped up into the boxcar and the train started to move. The train began to move fast and Frederiksen made a quick decision and jumped. Otherwise he would have ended up in Idaho.
Frederiksen and his wife had seven children – five of whom are still alive – and they eventually bought property on Columbia Avenue.
Frederiksen said he is proud of his service with the post office but after retirement he was able to concentrate on another love – music.
He can trace his affection for music to Kilgore where he played in a band. Frederiksen plays the piano, accordion and sings -- all by ear. Once a month, he plays at Nyssa Gardens Assisted Living Facility.
When asked to play the accordion, he smiled.
“I am pretty rusty anymore,” said Frederiksen.
Every Sunday he plays the piano at church.
He thinks he knows why God has kept him going this long. It all comes back to the names on the birthday list.
“I think it’s because I do play this music for people,” he said.
Have a news tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected] or 541-473-3377.