Neighborhood honors retiring mail carrier with decorated mailboxes

About a dozen residents stood along the 200 block of Edridge Way Friday morning, their mailboxes decorated in honor of the man who has delivered their mail at 10:30 a.m. sharp for more than three decades.

Dudley Bradburn, 62, would retire once he completed the route the Baltimore Highlands native began covering 31 years ago, long before many of the residents of the street off Edmondson Avenue had moved in.

When the residents saw Bradburn drive up the street, a heart-shaped balloon taken from one of the mailboxes tied to his truck, they cheered.

"We just like him so much," said Carol Phillips, who has lived on the block 13 years. "He stops and talks with you. He talks with the kids."

"It's like he never had a bad day," said Phillips, who decorated her mailbox with orange and black streamers because she knew of Bradburn's love of the Baltimore Orioles.

Asked what he would miss most about his route, Bradburn, who graduated from Lansdowne High School in 1968, had a ready answer.

"The people," said the Ferndale resident. "The people are so great.

"It's just so nice to be thought of in such a beautiful way," he said.

Mary Van Wyngaarden, who has lived on the 200 block of Edridge Way for 27 years, recalled that her daughter, now 30 years old, would wait in a rocking chair for Bradburn to come and give her a lollipop when she was younger.

Now, Van Wyngaarden's 6- and 8-year-old grandsons have learned to wait for Bradburn.

Even Van Wyngaarden's dog, a bichon named Rudy, knew to wait for Bradburn because he would provide treats to the dogs, too.

"I can't say enough. He was never in a rush and always would do anything to help out," Wyngaarden said. "He made everyone feel like they were special."

Trish Romefeld, who has lived on the street for more than a dozen years, said she can recall how every child in the neighborhood ran up to Bradburn's truck looking for a treat and never left disappointed.

"He just has that warmth and kindness," Romefeld said. "It's that kind of stuff you don't find any more."

In addition to treating children and pets kindly, Bradburn took care of the older residents, too, said Joe Parr, a resident of the 200 block of Edridge Way for 40 years.

"Dudley would always make an excuse to bring mail to the door when my mom was sick," he recalled just before Bradburn made his last trip down the block.

Bradburn's keen eye also foiled several burglaries over the years, Parr said.

"He knew his route so well. He knew if something was out of place," Parr said.

Many of the residents on the 200 block of Edridge Way left Bradburn presents inside their mailboxes.

"He got the mail this time," Van Wyngaarden said.

Bradburn got out of the truck on several occasions Friday morning to chat with the residents, wish them well and thank them for their kindness and friendship before continuing on his route.

He joked after the first meeting, "At this rate, I'll never get done."

And the residents on the 200 block of Edridge Way would think that's just fine.

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