When not dressed as part of Doug Austin’s Olde English players, John Aussenhofer can be found at the Idyllwild Post Office in a costume prescribed by the U.S.
government, rather than in a nightshirt.
No matter the costume, Aussenhofer has a ready smile, quick wit and mischievous twinkle in his eye, especially for his regular customers.
Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Jersey City, Bergen County, New Jersey, John later moved to California with his parents and attended Pasadena High School. After high school, John, in his own words, “knocked around” in Southern California working in bookkeeping and small-business consulting, sometimes with his father’s company handling short-line distribution of agricultural products. “Here I was, this city boy, handling an agricultural line,” laughed John.
After 20 years in Pasadena, John relocated to the Ontario area as a medical processor and counselor for San Bernardino County.
“I came late to the post office,” said John. He started working for the department in 1996 in San Bernardino for the remote coding section. As equipment became less human-dependent, that office closed. Since John was under contract, the post office was obligated to offer alternative jobs and locations. Idyllwild was on the list. His wife’s parents lived in Banning so the couple decided to drive up the Hill to check out Idyllwild. “It was 2005, just before Halloween,” John remembered. “I talked with Christina [Reitz], Sherry [Kaufman] and Dawn [Miller, then postmaster]. Tuesday morning it was a done deal. Dawn told me I had to be here every day, and no excuse for bad weather.
“We moved up in June of 2006. The crew I work with is incredible. We work through all the rough spots as a group. As for Idyllwild, the sense of community is very strong, especially how people look out for each other.”
John said he worked the back office when he first came, then was moved up to the front counter and eventually to first clerk. “With time, I was able to let myself be myself,” he said. “Don Rickles was my model. I loved the interaction with the people, how I could dish it out and they could give it back. It was fun.
“I’ve heard from so many that coming in to the post office won’t be the same with me not being there. I really appreciate that.”
Aussenhofer’s retirement is official on Friday, Sept. 29. He plans to move to the Puget Sound area in Washington where he will garden and get involved in community service.