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Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
July 3, 1998     Cape Gazette
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July 3, 1998

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58 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, July 3 - July 9, 1998 BUSINESS & REAL ESTATE Clifton gives stamp of approval to postal retirement By Rosanne Pack There was neither rain, sleet or snow on July 1, but the mail deliv- ery on one Rehoboth Beach route was definitely special delivery as Edward Clifton made his last run and finished up 30 years as a letter carrier. Clifton has served in the Re- hoboth office since 1968, starting as a substitute carder and working his way into a full-time position and area fixture. Through those years, he has come to know ad- dresses and the personalities that occupy them, and he has collected friends along the way. "I walked my south Rehoboth route for 14 years," he said. "It is an eight-hour route, two hours in the office and the rest on the street. I got to know people, I watched the events of their lives. "On a riding route, I've missed the people. A squeaky mailbox door doesn't have much to say." His 30 years of delivering the mail has not gone unnoticed, though, and many observed his re- tirement with parties and gifts. Friends surprised him with a party and the gift of a trip to the first night races to be mn at Daytona in Florida. Fellow staff members at the Re- hoboth Post Office gave him a party and a gift of 10 laps around Dover Downs racetrack. "We've got some good employ- ees here in Rehoboth, and they caught me with a party Saturday night," Clifton said. "They all know that I love racing so the laps around Dover Downs are a great gift. My friends know me, they know that I have only missed one Daytona in 29 years. That's why they got these gifts." The retirement gifts mean a lot to the mail carrier, but so do the small, thoughtful items and deeds that came from his route over the years. He said his birthday was often recognized with cards and small gifts, and many kept an eye out for mail delivery time so they could share a little conversation. "I had one man who fixed lunch for me every day," Clifton re- membered as he said the address and name of a man who has been dead for several years now. "He would have it ready, and if I wasn't hungry or had plans to eat with some of my friends at the post office, he would say, 'Then, let me wrap up this sandwich for you to have later.' He was so nice." The sharing went both ways on his walking route, and Clifton took his turn at passing along little gifts to his customers. "When I was still walking, I gave carnations to all the widow ladies on my route at Christmas time," he said. "I would stop in the bank and do the same. If you are lonely, Christmas can be a de- pressing time. I would put a red carnation in their mailbox and tell them it was just a little gift from me to them." Clifton said he never really minded the weather that much, whether it was dead of winter or steaming summer. He recalled on- ly two times in his career when he had to stop and warm his hands in cold weather. "The chill factor was always the worst. Most carriers will wear gloves when it gets really cold, but I could never wear gloves and work the mail," he said. "And people were always so kind, someone would ask me if I want- ed a quick cup of hot chocolate or tea." It's that kind of personal touch that Clifton will remember from his career as a letter carrier. He said that he watched families grow, heard of marriages and saw babies come home from the hos- pital. He learned of people's rou- tines and checked up on some of his customers if things seemed off kilter, if mail piled up for a day or two or things seemed out of order in their yards. "Of course, it has always been hard to see some of my older peo- ple pass away," he said. Thinking about the things that people receive through the mail, Clifton laughed and said that mail carriers unconsciously come to know a lot about the customers on their routes. "People would be surprised to know what their mail carrier knows," he said. "And, what we know without really wanting to know. You would not believe what some people get in the mail." As the mail delivery business becomes more technical, with computers in the post office and many routes going from walking to driving routes, Clifton sees a lot of the personal touch leaving mail delivery. It concerns him since it A sight that will no longer be seen in Rehoboth, Edward Clifton delivers mail before his July I retirement. The 30-year letter carrier has his sights on the races, fishing and golf. was one of the reasons he stayed in the work for 30 years. "Service to customers is sup- posed to be our priority, but with the time constraints that have been placed on postal workers, the emphasis on quotas, we don't have the time we used to with the customers," he said. "That's what I liked about the job." In 30 years of delivering mail in Rehoboth, Clifton has seen changes in the town as well as in the postal business. He remem- bers when year-'round residents were not so plentiful and few weekenders came down between October and March. "The old quaint town is disap- pearing, families are moving out of the central part of town," he said. "I can remember being able to play football in the middle of the highway in the dead of win- ter." After he drove his mail truck along his route for the last time Wednesday, Clifton set off for points south: the Daytona races, Walt Disney World, some fishing and a few rounds of golf. When he returns to Delaware, he plans to do more of the same, and perhaps visit some with his grown daugh- ters who live in Massachusetts. "I have some decisions to make," he laughed. "I will have to decide if I want to go fishing or to the golf course. "And, I'm going to remember a valuable lesson I learned. I can't let something that someone else is doing bother me. If you do that, you make what is their problem your problem. And, I'm not going to do that." Achieving the dream of owning a home Would you rather write a mort- gage check instead of a rent check each month? Even if you have had credit issues in the past, such as bankruptcy or late credit card pay- ments, that may not preclude you from qualifying for a home mort- gage. Before you go house hunting, it would make good sense to meet with a lender to review your pre- sent situation to determine what you can afford each month, which is called prequalification. At Nor- west Mortgage, there is no cost to you for this initial prequalification meeting. In order to speed the process, you will want to bring the follow- ing documents to your meeting with your lender: W-2 forms Recent pay stubs Recent bank statements (all pages) Verification of rent checks (12 months) If you are self-employed, you will also want to bring the follow- FINANCIAL FOCUS Barbara Brittinghar ing: Two years of income tax re- turns Year-to-date profit and loss statement Sometimes lenders find that some applicants do not qualify at the moment. For instance, some- one with a relatively low income with a large credit card debt may need to pay off those credit cards before they are able to qualify for a mortgage." The most important thing to keep in mind as you work toward your goal of homeownership is to show that you are financially re- sponsible. That, of course, means paying the rent on time and pay- ing other debts, such as credit cards and student and car loans on time. Those who prequalify and who are renting a house or apartment for $600 or more per month may be eligible for a federal program that could enable you to be mak- ing a mortgage payment instead of a rental payment. Most conventional home loans require the borrower to have a downpayment of 10 percent to 20 percent of the purchase price. But the following three agen- cies, the Rural Community Eco- nomic Development (RCED), the Veterans Administration (VA) and the Federal Housing Authori- ty (FHA) offer programs that vir- tually allow you to borrow the money for a home with no money down. Of course, obtaining a mortgage through any of these three pro- grams will likely take more time - an average of 60 days or less - compared with the 30 days or less for conventional loans. Also, more documentation is of- ten required and frequently the borrower must take a proactive role in obtaining that documenta- tion and following through with requests. For example, in order to obtain a mortgage through the VA, a Certificate of Eligibility is neces- sary. If you qualify for such a cer- tificate but don't have one, the forms can be made available to you through your lender. All three of the above programs make provisions for closing costs. The RCED program, depending on the appraisal, will allow the borrowers to include the closing costs in the mortgage or permit the seller to contribute toward them. Closing costs cannot be includ- ed in VA loans, but can be paid with seller contributions and/or a gift from a family member. FHA regulations permit part of the clos- ing costs to be included in the loan, or as a seller contribution. Additional closing costs and the downpayment can be paid with a gift from a family member. While the VA does not place any limits on loan amounts up to $203,150, both the FHA and the RCED programs have loan limits to $91,200. And the RCED program does place an income limit according to family size, but the FHA and VA do not. So, even if you don't have sev- eral thousand dollars of downpay- ment money sitting in a savings account, homeownership is not out of the question. Call Barbara Brittingham of Norwest Mortgage Inc. at 226- 1867for a prequalification meet- ing or to discuss the right mort-