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Local Spotlight – Nellie Bradshaw-Farafonova – Crystal Bay Post Office

January 2, 2024 | Meghan Ochs

Originally Published in IVCBA Live.Work.Play, Written by Meghan Ochs

Nellie Bradshaw-Farafonova is the senior, and only, passport clerk at the Crystal Bay Post Office. Nellie and her job have a lot in common, on the surface both might seem ordinary in a lovely, predictable way, perhaps even a bit outdated in today’s modern digital world. However, it turns out, her job, just as Nellie herself, is a lot more complicated than meets the eye. 

Nellie moved to Incline Village in 94’ with her second husband and their then, two young children. Today, she lives in Crystal Bay and the years between tell an interesting story about a unique woman. 

She began what she calls her ‘second career’, the one outside of raising her children, at The Hyatt as a hostess.  She soon became supervisor and moved onto the Regency Club and became a concierge manager. In early 2002, she made a big change and moved to Russia to teach English. The move was precipitated by both her divorce in 2001 and 9/11 which impacted tourism. Nellie loved her time and experiences in Moscow, but despite having a multi entry exit visa and visiting on occasion, she desperately missed her children. Listening to Nellie discuss her time in Russia it’s obvious that her time away fed her naturally adventurous spirit. While there, she earned good money to send back to her children and married her third husband who was Russian. In 2005 she came back to Tahoe and was devastated when soon thereafter her marriage ended. However, Nellie’s palpable tenacity kicked in. Nellie started what would become a long term career with The United States Post Office. 

Hard work and adaptability seem to come easily to Nellie which is incredibly useful in her role at USPO. The office at Crystal Bay is actually under the jurisdiction of The State Department in Los Angeles and is unique in the number of passports it processes. Prior to COVID, 65-70 a month were processed, now, Nellie and her single member staff, do over 1600 in a 6 month period. People come by multiple travel modalities to get to Nellies office for complicated travel cases. Nellie has an amicable nature that lends well to customer service and she loves all who visit. She notes that her job requires a lot of patience due to the long term nature of acquiring passports. She often encounters angry and disgruntled people.  However, she still builds lots of positive personal relationships. She can rattle off names and addresses the same way people remember land line phone numbers. Nellie has obvious, high level people skills. 

The Post Office in 2023 might seem irrelevant. Something similar could theoretically, and wrongly, be assumed about Nellie. As a short statured 68 year old woman, she seems quiet and unassuming. Nellie has the appearance of a young and kind grandmother. Talking to Nellie you quickly learn that both of these assumptions about her, and the place she works, are far from the truth. Nellie is anything but quiet, or tame. She is sweet and kind yes, but an emotionally strong, unique woman who forged her own path and collected a lot of stories of adventure, hard work, and heartbreak. As for the place she works, it doesn’t take long to learn how truly important the services she provides really are. Nellie and the Crystal Bay Post Office provide services and basic needs to individuals and families that many take for granted. There seem to be a lot of unspoken parallels between Nellie and her work, perhaps this is why she loves it.  Nellie hopes to stay in her current role for awhile longer. She thinks about retirement from her 6 days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, job but knows it doesn’t make sense until she becomes a grandparent, or finds a new partner. For now, for the benefit of local residents and wannabe travelers, Nellie will be behind the counter at Crystal Bay in the signature USPO light blue shirt, and navy apron, with her big smile and warm heart, greeting all those who walk through the door. 

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