By Barbara Morris
As you may remember, Jan. 11 was a very cold day in a chain of cold days. What do you suppose drove a great many people out of cozy homes, some to wait for two buses and some to brave a trip in cars that might cough and sputter at the turn of the ignition key? I will tell you. It was the long-planned retirement celebration to honor Thomas Daniels Sr., deacon of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church and customer relations coordinator of the U.S. Postal Service in Jamaica.
The event was held at the lovely Antun’s in Queens Village. And what would one wear to a fancy party on a very cold day? I will tell you that, too. Layers. When I confessed to one woman at the party that I was wearing slacks under my velvet pants and a fuzzy sweater under my velvet top, she laughed and raised her own long, elegant gown to reveal boots.
She also told me other secrets, not to be revealed, about keeping warm under the gown. After all, they were her secrets. I told you all this to indicate just how important Daniels has been and is to the lives he has touched.
As the program for the event stated, “Deacon Daniels is the recipient of numerous leadership awards, certificates and other forms of recognition from churches, community, civic groups and the United States Postal Service and featured in the QPTV Photo Gallery for the months of March and May 2003.”
He has also been married to his high school sweetheart, Dorothy, for 41 years. His strong religious faith began early in life, when he chose to follow in the footsteps of his forebears. He was one of the founders of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church and is a close friend and associate of that church’s present pastor, the Rev. Dr. James Kelly, who not only gave the invocation but later told us how he had begged Deacon Daniels not to retire before he did.
We were told the committee that arranged this retirement celebration was begun by recently retired Jamaica postmaster Gino Gentilini, who was assisted by Deacon LaVonne Erskine, mistress of ceremonies; Michael Lowry, master of ceremonies; Frank Fazio; Laura Shelton-Carr; Lee Booker-Newell; Maribel Marcus and I suspect many others. The committee had everyone present take an active part in the event.
Giving presentations were some of our local legislators and civic leaders, including City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) and Jack Thompson, president of the Cambria Heights Civic Association. Representatives of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), who were out of town, gave presentations in their stead.
There was a long line of others (too numerous to list) waiting with awards in hand to congratulate our man of the day, Daniels. Gentilini and Jamaica postmaster James Burns each spoke highly of the wonderful job Daniels did throughout his 36 years with the post office, and Lowry proved he was telling the truth when he said he was nervous. He introduced his longtime close associate and friend, who was to read the Postal Worker Prayer, as James Fazio, whose name is really Frank Fazio — at least until that day.
We all enjoyed a good laugh, especially those two gentlemen. That prayer was so effective that I asked Fazio to send me a copy so I can share it with you.
As a member of the Jamaica Postal Advisory Council who was present, along with Manny Caughman, Joseph Herbert, Charles Jenkins, Maribel Marcus, Millie Rivas and Jack Thompson, I can tell you we all clapped especially hard for that prayer and for the remarks Daniels made about the U.S. Postal Service.
All too few know the trials and tribulations involved in handling what is probably the greatest volume of mail in the world, and all too often the good service we receive and those who provide it are not fully appreciated and are sometimes even abused. Especially in this weather and in the summer heat, we hope the path to each home is kept clear and safe.
The scrumptious food was blessed by the Rev. Paul Dunbar, and after more family and friends paid tributes, songs were sung by Jenkins.
I. Christina Bailey and Daniels’ granddaughters — both of whom have excellent stage presence — the DJ and associates were inspired to tell us to get on the dance floor, hug and kiss someone, dance and really have fun. And we did. I hope Larry Faust, New Jerusalem’s new publicity man, recorded it all.