The Mayor of 16802

May 17, 2016 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

Herr and his wife, Mary, served up coconut cream pie to the magazine staff.

Herr has been overly sentimentalized in all sorts of outlets over the years, but it’s difficult to be flippant about a guy who’s lived his life like a Norman Rockwell painting: As young adults, he says, he and his two sisters would convene around their parents’ kitchen table late at night, talking about their respective dates while eating Oreos and drinking milk. His parents were married for 68 years, and Herr helped care for both of them until the end. He raised his daughters to be excited about rainy days by racing popsicle sticks down their street’s gutter. Last fall he pushed a neighbor out of the way of a falling tree branch, taking the brunt of the limb’s force that required 11 stitches on top of the mailman’s head.

That accident occurred just days before the Penn State Thespians’ production of Legally Blonde, in which he had 11 speaking lines. The guy who calls himself “shy” had practiced morning and night, and the head injury didn’t slow him down. He got up the next morning and went to work, and then to rehearsal; he was ready. On opening night, he was given just one bit of feedback about his performance. “During the first intermission, the director said to me, ‘Mike the Mailman, tomorrow when you walk on stage, don’t say your lines right away, because it got really loud when you walked on stage,’” he says. “I was so focused, I hadn’t even noticed.”

Weeks says her dad’s unassuming responses to such adoration are just as authentic as the rest of him. She has helped him with every THON “mail call” since the early ’90s, has eaten tons of the goodies he’s brought home from thankful patrons, and has never seen him turn down a photo request from a passerby. Mostly, though, she’s been amazed by the example he sets at home. “I’ll hear my mom laughing, and it’s because my dad has just told a stupid joke,” Weeks says. “They’re about to celebrate 40 years of marriage and she still gets a kick out of him.”

Weeks says her father’s love for the university has seeped into their family’s life, and that won’t retire with him. She and her dad went to plenty of Penn State sporting events when she was growing up—wrestling is his favorite—and he always got her popcorn while they watched the action. “Every game I would find a jumbo marshmallow in my popcorn, and he would say, ‘Whoops! You just missed the Nittany Lion, but he left that for you,’” she says. “This went on and on for a couple years and I never caught him in the act.

“Then a few years ago, I went to a [basketball] game with him over the Christmas holiday and he asked if I wanted a snack at halftime. I didn’t think much of it and said, ‘Grab whatever.’ He brought me back popcorn. And don’t you know, later in the second half of the game, I found a marshmallow.”

That Mike Herr. Surely, smuggling treats into the Bryce Jordan Center is against the rules.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Entry filed under: From the Magazine. Tags: , .

How a Gerbil Almost Became the USG President in 1981 A $25,000 Check for Grace Hayba

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Follow The Penn Stater on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 496 other followers