By Kevin McClintock
Measuring 4 feet high and weighing in at nearly 140 pounds sits a teetering stack of free catalogs that Joplin resident Steve DiPierdomenico has reluctantly received in the mail over a span of 12 months.
The 85-year-old veteran of World War II had befriended his postal carrier, Kevin Parrott, over the years. On a particularly hot day back in 2011, he spied Parrott approaching his Vermont Avenue house, sweaty and weighed down by an overloaded satchel. Meeting him out on his front porch, he picked up Parrott’s bag and was amazed by how heavy it was.
“It’s not an easy job they do,” DiPierdomenico said of U.S. postal carriers. “Everybody sees these guys, and they think they’ve got it easy — no way. They ought to see the weight he’s carrying around sometimes.
“When I took his satchel, I thought, ‘Boy, this guy has got a job.’”
Turns out, Parrott’s satchel was filled with free catalogs. In fact, DiPierdomenico had seen quite a few of the slick-faced packages pass between his mailbox to the kitchen’s trash can over the years.
“Here I am, out there waiting for checks, and (Parrott) hands me catalogs,” DiPierdomenico said with a chuckle. “So I said to him, ‘starting next year, from day one to the end of the year, I’m going to save every catalog that comes to my house.’”
And he kept that promise, collecting the free catalogs from companies such as L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, Neiman Marcus and Heartland America (to name just a few) and piling them into a stack. When that stack grew to a height of five inches (or roughly 15 pounds in weight), he’d squeeze them down and wrap them up in silver duct tape. By the end of 2012, he had nine tape-wrapped stacks.
His hobby, he joked, “even cost me a half-a-roll of duct tape.”
Sally DiPierdomenico, Steve’s wife, admitted to being the “culprit.”
“I’m the orderer,” she said. “Once in a great while (Steve) will want to order something, but I’m the one that caused it initially.
“Probably out of all the magazines, I order regularly out of five of them. Once you start receiving them, it’s very difficult to stop them.”
Parrott said Steve and Sally DiPierdomenico receive “more than the average share” of catalogs that he delivers on his mail route.
Probably what happened, he said, “was one or both of them ordered things from (one of the catalogs) in the past, and maybe they didn’t even order too many, but these companies will sell lists to other buying customers and, boy, before you know it, you have a lot of (catalogs).”
On Mondays and the Tuesdays following a major holiday, he will hoist to the various Joplin homes a bundle of catalogs.
“We’ll just be deluged with them,” Parrott said.
He admits the catalogs can be annoying.
“Most people, like I say, they’ll go through their mail and they’ll keep whatever bills are there and maybe the church letter, but everything else will go into the trash.”
The DiPierdomenicos have lived in their Joplin home for 45 years.
“That’s a hell of a lot of catalogs (moving) through here,” Steve DiPierdomenico said with a laugh. His stack of 2012 catalogs will soon find its way to the Joplin Recycling Center.
There will not be a second stack of catalogs collected throughout 2013.
“I think we’ve had our fill of them,” Sally DiPierdomenico said.
“But you know,” Steve DiPierdomenico said moments later, “the only thing I got to say is it’s better (collecting these catalogs) than shining hubcaps on weekends. I’ll now need to find a new hobby.”
Postal workers’ heaviest loads have little to do with catalogs or letters. The annual letter carrier food drive produces the heaviest loads, according to Joplin carrier Kevin Parrott. The food drive this year falls on Saturday, May 11.