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Well-Wishes for a Post Office ‘Star’

Thu, 02/01/2024 - 10:56
As Tony Lambert signed off on Friday from his longtime position as clerk at the Bridgehampton Post Office, patrons including Jeffrey Vogel and Cathy Santacroce-Worwetz wished him well.
Christine Sampson

The Bridgehampton Post Office is the kind of place where everyone’s on a first-name basis. Customers hold the door open for others, or stoop down to pick up a slip of mail someone has dropped. The clerks know people’s box numbers by heart. They know the names of their customers’ kids and pets.

Late Friday morning, on Tony Lambert’s last day as a clerk at the post office, the lobby swelled with gratitude and well-wishes for him, as he had accepted a position at a post office closer to his new home. Patron after patron stopped by for handshakes and hugs, dropping off cards, gifts, and bottles of wine.

“We’re heartbroken he’s leaving,” said Cathy Santacroce-Worwetz, who baked him chocolate-chip cookies. “He’s a huge part of the community.”

Mr. Lambert, 49, had lived in Bridgehampton since he was adopted by his mother, Gussie Briggs, at the age of 2. She died about eight years ago.

It hasn’t always been easy living there: In 2015, he survived a motorcycle accident on Hayground Road. Two years ago, he was forced to find housing elsewhere after a fire destroyed the family house on Narrow Lane, and he now resides in Mastic — meaning the commute to Bridgehampton for work can be brutal. Mastic “isn’t home,” Mr. Lambert said, “but it’s a nice little area.”

Jeffrey Vogel popped into the post office for a handshake and invited Mr. Lambert to watch a sporting event at his house. “I’m going to track you down and bring you back,” Mr. Vogel joked.

Mr. Lambert’s next stop isn’t a secret, though. He’s transferring to the Cutchogue Post Office, which is only about 35 minutes from his house, not a 90-minute nightmare.

“I’ll never forget anybody. People here have been good to me,” said Mr. Lambert, who bounced back from the house fire thanks to a GoFundMe campaign widely supported by Bridgehampton residents.

He is also a veteran of the Marine Corps and National Guard, has raised four kids, has worked as a poll worker and remains an elections inspector, has served on the school board and local citizens advisory committee, and was a volunteer fireman in the hamlet for 21 years.

In walked Clyde Wesnofske. “You got the job done,” he told Mr. Lambert with a firm handshake.

“I’m just doing what I have to do,” Mr. Lambert said.

“It’s never going to be the same here,” Mr. Wesnofske concluded.

Another guy called Mr. Lambert, who graduated from high school here in 1993, a “star of Bridgehampton.”

A woman named Amy promised to keep in touch online.

Someone asked if he’s retiring. “I wish,” he replied, laughing.

And so it went, a steady stream of “good luck” and “we’ll miss you” and “thanks for everything,” into the afternoon.

He promised to visit, and also to pick up his mail, as he plans to maintain his P.O. box in Bridgehampton. And he shared his radio handle, KC2PRN, for fellow amateur radio enthusiasts to stay in touch — a hobby he picked up while serving in the Fire Department.

“There’s nothing but love. Pure love, the whole 22 years I’ve been here,” a grateful Mr. Lambert said. “I’ve seen good days and bad days, but I take it in stride — keep [the customers] happy, make them smile.”

 

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