Mike the Mailman's Mailbag
Every publication ought to have a “letters” page, and who better to curate ours than Mike Herr, the perpetually energetic, smiling presence behind the desk at the University Park Post Office affectionately known to generations of Penn Staters as “Mike the Mailman?” Mike retired from his job of over 40 years back in 2016, and while much has changed for him, his affection for Penn State and his Happy Valley home remains as strong as ever. Corresponding with our readers in these pages is one of many ways he can maintain those connections.
To launch Mike’s quarterly mailbag feature here in the magazine, we’ve collected some of the most common questions he’s asked in person and on social media, along with a few of our own. Going forward, Mike wants to publish and react to your letters here in this space, so get in touch!
What have you been up to since you retired?
I have a great TV show called The Obligatory PSU Pregame Show. We also do a podcast. I play a lot of tennis, and I play a lot of poker. I think I’m probably better at poker than I am tennis, but either way, it’s fun. And we do a bed and breakfast, of course (The Herr House at Linden Hall). Our grandson is only three hours and nine minutes away, so since we don’t have to work anymore, we can just leave whenever we want to and go visit our grandchild, which is the best part of being retired, having the time to spend with not only our children, but our only grandchild.
What was it like becoming a grandfather for the first time?
It’s everything everyone told us it was going to be. It’s great. I didn’t remember how to hold a baby! I was really intimidated at first. What also struck is me is all the new gadgets they have for the parents and for the child. A lot of good things. Better car seats, just better everything. Different things that make it easier for both the baby and the parents. And the grandparents. It makes it a lot easier for us to do what we have to do too.
What have been the changes in your life that you have most enjoyed?
I’ve been a very lucky guy. I’ve enjoyed life period, and it just continues. I guess it’s probably the free time that you have, that you’re not locked into a time slot. Probably the best thing for me is having all the free time to do what I want to do when I want to do it.
What do you miss most from your days working at Penn State?
Obviously, I miss the camaraderie with the students, the faculty, and the staff. I’m still connected with THON and Homecoming and several different things, but I do miss the interaction. I always thought that the students kept me abreast of what the latest clothing style was, not that I did anything with that, but the just the whole atmosphere of the Penn State community. I miss that.
You've gotten to judge the Homecoming Parade the past several years. What are your favorite things about Homecoming and what are some memories from your role as parade judge?
It’s so much fun to see all these people who come back to town that have left. I’m just amazed at how many people there are from different eras who remember me. Every time anyone sees me, either at a tailgate or the Homecoming parade, they’ll say, “I can remember when this happened.” I hear 10 or 11 stories from 10 or 11 different people. It’s stuff that I’ve forgotten, obviously, but they remember their interactions with me one time or another at the post office. And that’s fun. I think the town is just so upbeat for Homecoming and the Homecoming parade. I just enjoy it.
Since this is our Fall/Winter Guide, what are Mike the Mailman's favorite things to do in Happy Valley during both seasons?
Well, believe it or not, in the winter time, I have a steep driveway, and when it snows, I love to shovel the snow. It’s just so soothing. It’s a relaxing time for me at 10 or 11 o’clock at night to shovel my driveway. It’s simple. I’m a simple guy. Let’s get this clear. I don’t have to go anywhere. I like it here. In the winter, I enjoy doing the driveway. As simple as it might sound, that’s what I like to do. In the fall, my bride and I like to take some bike rides, and the fall usually provides just the right temperature to take these bike excursions, and that’s fun to do with her too.
Got a question for Mike or a message to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or even write a letter!
Mike the Mailman
19 Colonnade Way Ste 117 #294
State College, PA 16803