Larry Sylvia: Signed, sealed, delivered
At 4:20 pm, Friday, May 1, Larry Sylvia delivered his last package for United Parcel Service (UPS), and, after delivering roughly 200 packages a day, 235 days a year for 33 years, retired.
"I figured that I delivered around 15 million packages in my 33 years working for UPS," Mr. Sylvia says. "Give or take a million."
Mr. Sylvia has driven a UPS delivery route in Vineyard Haven for the past 25 years. "I could have pretty much picked any route on Martha's Vineyard," he said in a conversation this week, "but Vineyard Haven just seemed like a natural choice. That's where I grew up and where I raised my family. I've worked in Vineyard Haven almost my entire life."
During high school, Mr. Sylvia worked caddying at Mink Meadows golf course, washing dishes at the Mansion House and delivering for Cronig's grocery store when it was still on Main Street.
In the late 1960s, after three years in the United States Marine Corps, he returned to the Vineyard, and drove a cement truck for the Goodale Construction Co. "But job security wasn't very good in the construction business on Martha's Vineyard back then," he said, "so I started looking around for something else [and in 1976], I lucked into a job with UPS."
Mr. Silvia remembers "driving in a foot and a half of snow during the blizzard of '78" on the Cape and on cobblestones when he drove on Nantucket for a year - "a lot of tourists and traffic congestion, but the beaches were beautiful." And then Mr. Sylvia was assigned a full-time position on the Vineyard.
"In my 33 years I watched the company grow from a domestic delivery service into a huge international network," he said. "We used to mostly deliver for mail order businesses like Sears, L.L. Bean and Montgomery Ward. When I started, three drivers could cover the entire Island year-round. Now it takes 12 in the summer and at Christmas."
Mr. Sylvia remembers when he began working for UPS, "I thought, how hard could it be to deliver packages?" But the weight of the packages that the drivers carried changed, from 50 pounds to 70, and eventually to 150. It wasn't just the lifting and carrying - boxes of books, computer paper and disassembled furniture. The company was always mindful of the bottom line and he was on a tight schedule, always feeling that he had to perform all day, every day.
"Larry has an exemplary work ethic," said Scott Cambra, Mr. Sylvia's supervisor at UPS. "Actually, I can't ever remember him missing a day of work."