New Suffolk says goodbye to two familiar, retiring faces

07/20/2012 8:00 AM |

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Kim Norkelun retires today after 15 years as New Suffolk’s postmaster.

Two very familiar faces in the tiny business district of New Suffolk are moving on.

Kim Norkelun retires today after 15 years as New Suffolk’s postmaster and a 34-year career that has taken him through nearly every post office on the North Fork.

Just a block away at Capt. Marty’s Fishing Station, owner Phil Loria is making a more gradual exit, showing new owner Kyle Baugher how to run the North Fork’s last fishing station, which Mr. Loria has owned for 43 years.

Mr. Norkelun said Monday that he will be the last postmaster of the second-smallest post office on Long Island. South Jamesport has the smallest.

He said the U.S. Postal Service has appointed Karlene Calliste of the Riverhead post office as “officer in charge” in New Suffolk, but does not plan to give Ms. Calliste the title of postmaster. In 2014, he added, the USPS plans to reduce the New Suffolk post office’s operating hours to just six per day.

There is no rural postal delivery in New Suffolk, which means the post office serves as a hub where everyone in the hamlet goes to socialize and hear about what their neighbors are up to.

“There are 295 boxes rented. There are 351 altogether,” said Mr. Norkelun. “It’s a very static number. There aren’t any new houses going up. The numbers always stay the same.

“You get to know everyone. They’re all great,” he said. “I never had one problem with customers the entire time I was in New Suffolk. It’s probably the most relaxing job in the postal service. My boss is up the island, they never bothered me. They didn’t want to come out to New Suffolk. The customers were happy, so they just stayed out of my hair the entire time.”

Mr. Norkelun now plans to spend more time riding his bike and walking his dog in the morning, “like everybody else does.”

“I get there around 7:30 a.m., six days a week. Having a morning off to myself, having a chance to have a second cup of coffee, is like a treat,” he said.

Mr. Loria is also no stranger to early mornings. From dawn onward, the fishing station is full of customers chartering aluminum boats for the day, skippers coming in for outboard engine repairs and a whole assemblage of boats that need to be put in the water and taken out again.

When asked what he plans to do after he leaves the shop in Mr. Baugher’s hands, Mr. Loria shrugged.

“I’m tired,” he said. “I’m going to relax.”

He said he would like to spend more time shooting trap with the trap team at the Mattituck Gun Club.

Mr. Baugher had worked in finance in New York, but recently moved full time to North Sea in Southampton Town. He had been an avid recreational fisherman on the Peconic Bays and knew he wanted to make a big change in his life when he heard Mr. Loria was looking to sell his business last winter.

“I used to come across to the Galley Ho by boat, and I knew about Capt. Marty’s,” said Mr. Baugher. “I’ve always loved water, boats and fishing. It holds a special place in my life.

“I came in January just to look at the property, and Phil made me feel welcome and comfortable. He wanted to help me,” he said. “It was easy as can be. Phil’s got my back here and he’s teaching me the ropes.”

Mr. Baugher added that the view from the fishing station is much nicer than the view from his office in his previous career.

“You’re going to live a lot longer, too,” said Mr. Loria.

[email protected]