JUNEAU -- Talk to residents of the capital city's First, Second or Third streets, and you soon learn that one of the small advantages of living in that area of Juneau is Conrad.
Conrado "Conrad" Ebron has been a mail carrier with the Juneau Post Office since 1985. He formerly was assigned to the area that included Seventh Street, where residents came to rely on his good-natured thoughtfulness.
"He goes the second mile" is how one former client, Elva Bomtraeger, custodian of the Wickersham House, describes the way Ebron makes daily life a little easier.
"If your mail starts piling up, he assumes you are not in town and takes it back to the post office," Bomtraeger said. "He knows the names of people. He keeps track of what is happening on his route, so he is an excellent security man for everyone."
From the fondness with which Bomtraeger speaks of Ebron, it's hard to believe it's 11 years since he was re-assigned away from her street.
His supervisor at the Federal Building Post Office, Ken Cikler, confirms the regard in which Ebron is held.
"He is an extraordinary employee, very conscientious; he loves his customers -- and they love him," Cikler said.
But Ebron plays down what he does.
"People ask me to hold their mail and stuff, and ask me to re-deliver parcels -- and I do it. I like good communications and being friendly," he said. "And I really have nice customers."
Ebron, 44, was born in the Philippines and grew up expecting to follow in his father's footsteps.
"I thought I was going to be an artist. My dad is a professional drummer who traveled to Japan and Hong Kong to perform, and I started learning piano in third grade. Most of my uncles and relatives are musicians, too," he said.
Ebron became a professional pianist in a band in 1976. He also played "easy listening" standards -- dance music and cocktail music -- on Holland America cruises.
On a cruise to Juneau in 1982, he met his future wife, Lourdes, when shopping for a taste of home in an Asian market. Lourdes, an accountant, works for the state Department of Administration's Division of Finance.
Ebron hasn't abandoned music entirely. He has a piano in his home. He also occasionally plays for parties at the Filipino Hall and for St. Paul's Catholic Church.
His sons, Zuriel, 17, and Carlo, 12, tried piano for a year but seem more interested in sports than the performing arts. Zuriel played soccer with Juneau's high school varsity, but this year is living with an uncle and attending school in Renton, Wash., "so he can experience big city life," Ebron said. Carlo enjoys both soccer and basketball.
Ebron became a U.S. citizen in 1986. He also joined the National Guard for six years in the 1980s, serving as a mechanic in the motor pool. Ebron's route has about 400 addresses or customers, which he says is about average for a carrier. Because there are a number of metal staircases giving him access to his area, Ebron said, with a big grin, "It's a good workout every day for me."
Bears and rain are givens for Juneau's postal carriers.
"This year was the worst for bear sightings," Ebron said. Customers often warn him that bears have been in certain neighborhoods, and he stays alert. His closest encounter this year was about 20 feet.
"The bear was walking on Fifth Street carrying a garbage bag, so I just ran," he said.
The current year has been a relief from 1999's rain, in his opinion. "Once in a while it gets to me. Last year was really terrible; it seemed it rained every day, and I was wet every time I came back from my route," he said. "This year is not too bad."
When he has leisure time at his home in the Mendenhall Valley, Ebron likes to work in the yard.
How did he become a mail carrier?
"I heard that they were giving a test, so I took that and passed it," Ebron said.
Ann Chandonnet is a reporter for the Juneau Empire.
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