When he’s not faithfully delivering mail along his Beacon Hill route, Bob Lee can often be found performing as a member of a semi-professional cabaret troupe or singing with a church choir.
A lifelong Dorchester resident who turns 60 this year, Lee began working for the U.S. Postal Service in 1988, and from 1989 until 2002, he delivered mail on Prince Street in the North End. Since then, his route has consisted of the State House and that portion of Bowdoin Street, as well as Beacon and Park streets.
“I’ve loved every neighborhood I’ve worked in in its own unique way,” Lee said. “The North End was interesting, but being up near the State House feels like you’re in the heart of the city.”
This year also marks 35 years that Lee has been involved in community theatre when the organizers of a variety show in Dorchester asked him to participate in it, and he ended up performing a couple of chorus numbers.
“The director said I had penchant for it, and that a lot of community theatres were looking for people who could sing and move,” Lee said.
Lee began performing around Cape Cod, and today, he is a member of Hot Spot Cabaret troupe – a semi-professional cabaret club that most recently provide entertainment at a holiday party at the Malden Irish American Club.
“We’ve worked Elks Clubs and for various church groups and temples over years,” Lee said. “We sing, dance and tell jokes. We perform at various venues and for groups looking for entertainment besides a deejay. It’s kind of a throwback to variety shows like ‘The Carol Burnett Show.’ We do that kind of comedy and perform with some very talented singers.”
While Lee is compensated for his work with the cabaret troupe, he also volunteers with Seaside Productions, performing community theatre and visiting elderly developments in the Medford and Malden area.
Bob Bezubka, director of the Hot Spot Cabaret Group, has also enlisted Lee as a member of church choir at St. Joseph’s Parish in Malden, where Bezubka also serves as the musical director.
Lee first caught the performance bug as a high school student when he performed as a member of the Boston Crusaders – a bugle corps that celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. Before coming to work as a mail carrier, he also taught high school bands for a stint.
“I enjoy making people laugh, and I like singing, and just the applause – like every other performer, I love to get it,” Lee said.
Meanwhile, Lee has become part of the Beacon Hill community during the years since coming to work here.
“I’ve met some nice people up here, and after all the years I’ve spent on Beacon Hill, it feels like I’m part of the neighborhood, so I try to look out for people,” Lee said.
About three years ago, Lee even had a hand in stopping a would-be thief whom he spotted climbing on the fire escape of a house.
“I knew he didn’t live there, so I shouted him down and chased after him with a couple of guys from the garage,” Lee said.
The culprit ultimately escaped, but Lee was satisfied knowing that he had helped prevent a crime.
And besides the surrogate family Lee has on Beacon Hill, he has also found true kinship among his fellow performers.
“The people I work with have been my friends for more than 30 years,” Lee said. “They’re like my family.”