Homewood’s downtown letter carrier Tony Pratscher walking his route for the last time

  Long-time Homewood postal carrier Tony Pratscher, 
  right, greets village hall regular Marvin Austin 
  on a recent Saturday while Homewood Public Works 
  Director John Schaefer looks on.
(Photos by Eric 
  Crump/H-F Chronicle)
 

[Note: Homewood businesswoman Dodi Wians arranged an informal retirement get-together for Ton Pratscher on Tuesday, July 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. on the patio at La Voute Bar + Bistro, 2034 Ridge Road.]

Businesses and residents have come and gone in the 29 years letter carrier Tony Pratscher has walked the downtown Homewood route.
 

Now it will be Pratscher moving on. The letter carrier will walk his route for the last time on July 29. Deciding to retire was a tough decision for him because saying goodbye to his friends will be difficult, “but I think it’s time,” he said. 
 
Pratscher bid on the downtown route and started walking from store to store and house to house in 1988, about 18 months after he’d joined the United States Postal Service.
 
The layout of the route has changed, but the core has remained the same, including the stores along Dixie Highway west to Harwood Avenue, and the office buildings, condominiums and residences in between. Now he also delivers to the Ravisloe district west of the tracks.
 
  Tony Pratscher stops to 
  chat briefly with retired 
  mail carrier Ron Adams, 
  left, and Mayor Richard 
  Hofeld. Adams, like Pratscher, 
  delivered mail in Homewood 
  for about three decades. 
  Their careers overlapped 
  by a few years. 

 
Pratscher gets to the postal service’s Tri-City Distribution Center in Glenwood around 8 a.m. to organize his mail and then drives to Homewood.
 
“This is probably the most complicated route in Homewood because of the businesses, and you have to know which businesses go where,” he said. Addresses can be tricky because the office buildings have ½ addresses, like 2051 ½ Ridge Road, and some apartments have letters, such as A and B.  
 
Pratscher said he likes the route because of the mix of businesses and families.

"You go into the businesses, like Suzy’s Hallmark, they’re the greatest," he said. "You get an exchange of information, you get to talk to people and you get out of the weather for a few moments.”
 
Aurelio’s Pizza, Homewood Florist, Just Between Trends and Sporn Co. are businesses he’s delivered to the entire 30 years he’s been on the route. Others businesses, like Suzy’s Hallmark, change downtown locations and addresses but they have been his customers for decades. 
 
“I’ve watched whole families. The Andy Lindstrom family, I remember them running up to me, these little kids with squeaky voices saying ‘Hi, Tony.’ And I watched entire families grow up, get married and have their own kids,” he said.
 
Most days it’s walking the route, but there have been times when his being there made a difference in someone’s life. He remembers the time a driver came out from around Art4Soul, lost control and hit a pole. 
 
“I ran across the street and opened the door and he was barely conscious. I got him out from behind the airbag and laid him on the ground,” he remembers. Pratscher said it was just something he did, but he remembers Dodi Wians, who owned the business at the time, crediting him with saving the driver’s life.
 
Another time he walked up to a house and he could hear someone calling for help. The elderly gentleman had fallen, cut open his head and was bleeding. Pratscher called 9-1-1 because the wife was in a panic and couldn’t think of what to do.
 
Over time, Pratscher’s boss has called on him to train new letter carriers.
 
“Most of it’s to do with safety,” he said, including on how to sort the mail, how to cross the streets — never look down at your mail! — and holding on to handrails.
 
As retirement approaches, Pratscher has a list of things that will fill his time. He’s promised distant friends in Oregon, Minnesota and elsewhere that he’ll come visit. He's undertaken an historical project for the village of Thornton, where he grew up, and he just bought a new drum set and is hoping to join up with a classic rock band.
 

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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.

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