10:05 PM PDT on Sunday, April 17, 2011

By DAVID KECK
The Press-Enterprise

Photo Gallery: Final Sunday Delivery in Loma Linda

A riot of color conquered the wide dirt median of Barton Road, where wildflowers of orange, yellow and purple blended with mats of green weeds for an integrated homage to another spring day in Loma Linda.

A dapper elderly couple walking slowly down the sidewalk didn’t have to bend down to take in the scent. The sweet smell filled the warm morning air, with hints of citrus blossoms from trees scattered around the yards of surrounding homes adding their touch.

“Here, you have a package,” Fisher said brightly. “I also wanted to let you know that this will be the last Sunday we deliver mail. Next week, we start delivery on Saturday instead of Sunday.”

The woman frowned. “Nobody works on Saturday,” she insisted.

“You can call the post office if you have any questions,” he said before moving on to his next stop.

Galina Rudenko wasn’t the only Loma Linda resident to grumble about the end of Sunday postal delivery in the predominantly Seventh-day Adventist city, where church doctrine observes Saturday as the Sabbath, God’s day of rest.

Petitions were circulated, complaints lodged.

Still, the Postal Service decided to end Sunday service in the city after 81 years.

Blame it partially on technology, carrier supervisor Duane Hubbard said. The agency’s computer software understands only Monday through Saturday, meaning the Loma Linda station is technically unable to communicate with it on Sundays.

“It’s like we’re on an island here on Sundays,” he said.

Costs were also a factor. Carriers in Loma Linda earn more for working Sundays, Hubbard said. While the extra cash makes a great attendance incentive, it doesn’t do much to bolster the agency’s bottom line as it struggles to compete with private delivery services and email.

Still, there’s something to be said for tradition, some residents insisted.

“It’s been this way for 70 years that I know of,” 81-year-old Forrest Greenman said as he sat on a low brick wall near a maze of single-story multi-housing units off Prospect Avenue. “I know of no reason they should change it now.”

A devout Adventist, Greenman said he signed a petition at his church to continue Sunday delivery. He disputed claims by the postal service that Loma Linda was one of only three cities nationwide with Sunday delivery. He said church members found at least nine.

“I guess it doesn’t bother me too much,” he said finally. “If they want to bring it Saturday, they can bring it Saturday.”

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