this June 17, 2015, photo, mail jumpers Thomas Peck
and Joanie Williams stand with Capt. Neill Frame in
front of the Walworth II in Lake Geneva, Wis.
— A rainy first day made for a fun start to the 99th
mailboat delivery season.
Peck, a second year jumper, said he grew up watching the
mail boat sail along Lake Geneva. His sister also was a
rainy days make it more fun," said Peck.
shine, mail jumpers have to jump from the boat — which
never stops moving— hustle to the mail boxes, and then
leap back to the boat without falling, the Beloit Daily
Neill Frame has been piloting the boat since the early
1970s and said there is a method to the moving madness.
main reason I keep moving is so that I can steer and avert
crashing into the dock," said Frame. "If I'm
standing still, it's easy to lose control."
this June 17, 2015, photo, after a successful
delivery, Thomas Peck walks along the side of the
Walworth II before entering the boat to get his next
mail package in Lake Geneva, Wis.
only slows the boat down to five miles per hour during
99-year tradition began as a necessity in the early 1900s,
when lake house owners would have to travel into town to
collect their mail. This presented travel problems and
congestion for boat owners, who had long boats and not
enough dock room. The tradition has continued as a form of
entertainment and summer employment for students.
learned you have to jump with the boat," Peck said,
who recalls falling in the water during tryouts this year.
isn't the only member of the team who joined after a
family member. His co-jumper for the day, Joanie Williams,
also came from a long line of jumpers. Williams' mother
and sister were jumpers before her.
Peck, Williams said she also grew up seeing her family
members jumping on the boat and thought when the time came
she'd try out, too.
like that I have something to do with the community,"
said Williams. "It's a really big deal that I can
connect with the community and that traditions can still
carry on for nearly 100 years."
the tour, Frame said the first female jumper, Elaine
Kanelos, was hired back in 1974. Kanelos published a book
based on her experiences in 2014, titled "Mail
Jumper! The Story of the First Mail Girl."
this June 17, 2015, photo, Thomas Peck and Joanie
Williams pose for a photo atop the Walworth II in
Lake Geneva, Wis., as they prepare for mail delivery
to homes along the lake shore.
then, he said there have been years where only one gender
was a jumper. This year, there is an even mix.
is the only mail delivery service in the country that
delivers mail via the water. The two-hour tour features
more than 60 mansions along the lake, often owned by
famous Chicago business families, including the Swifts,
Maytags, Bordens and Wrigleys.
dock, a golden retriever dashes to the end of the pier to
carry the Sunday paper up to his master. Santa Claus also
makes a rare summer time appearance at one of the piers.
Burling, office manager for Lake Geneva tours, was a mail
jumper in 1984.
didn't have try-outs," said Burling of her time as a
Burling sprained her ankle during the Fourth of July
weekend of her first year and wasn't able to complete the
season. She never jumped again, but did become the first
full-time employee at the company. Her own children are
now carrying on the tradition, and her son and daughter
are both mail jumpers for this season.
though the new season just began June 15, the company is
already planning its centennial celebration next year.
going to have reunions and prizes," Burling said.
"We may ask people around the lake to decorate their
piers according to different decades."