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Beware of Cat

Beware of Cat

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And Other Encounters of a Letter Carrier

Author Vincent Wyckoff

Minnesota Historical Society Press (March 15, 2007)

With humor and depth, letter carrier Wyckoff reveals the rhythms, secrets, and surprises of the thriving community that comprises his postal route.


One sunny day on his postal route, Vincent Wyckoff crosses the path of an elderly gentleman whistling for his lost parakeet. The old man is upset, and Wyckoff moves down the block slowly, looking high and low, hoping to spot the little bird. He reaches the man’s house and offers sympathy to his wife, who smiles sadly and says, “We haven’t had that bird for twenty-five years.”

Letter carriers like Wyckoff walk through the same neighborhood each day, observing the lives and routines of its residents. They learn its stories, make connections between people, and, in many ways, become the common thread that connects neighbors to one another. Along Wyckoff’s mail route, Native American children teach him about totems. He finds assistance for a reclusive chain-smoking book collector who can’t maintain his property. He delivers a much-delayed registered letter mailed from Saigon in 1976. Over the years, Wyckoff sees the neighborhood of blue-collar retirees change as a diverse group of younger people move in and raise their families.

Celebrating the triumphs in everyday life and demonstrating the danger of trusting first impressions, Beware of Cat reveals the inner workings of an ordinary place of extraordinary interest.

Author information

Vincent Wyckoff was a laborer, a construction worker, and a sheetmetal worker before he became a letter carrier in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1990. This is his first book.

Reviews and news

In the media:

"This loving portrait of an average American community should give readers a new way of looking at the civil servants in their lives."
Publishers Weekly

"Funny, touching, insightful, even inspirational."
Star Tribune

City Pages

Longfellow/Nokomis Messenger

Advance Praise:

“The world needs more wise and gentle voices like Vince Wyckoff's. His humanity and humor shine a light on the everyday world, making it a place in which we want to pull up a chair and bask a while.”
Lorna Landvik, author of Oh My Stars: A Novel

“The family doctor? A trusted friend? The bartender at your favorite tavern? Add to such a list of confidantes your letter carrier . . . if you are fortunate enough to live along the route of veteran postman Vincent Wyckoff. He is an observer with heart, but more, a participant in the daily triumphs or sorrows of his people. He delivers far more than mail to his customers. The man is a psychologist of the practical—and he makes house calls.”
Roger MacDonald, MD, author of A Country Doctor’s Casebook

Workday Minnesota

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 204 pages
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873515825

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