By Sue Tiffin
Last Saturday marked International Newspaper Carrier Day, and next month marks four years since Bev and Pat Hicks became steadfast newspaper carriers for the Minden Times.
“It’s an important job, it’s getting the news out there to everybody,” said Bev. “It was Pat that wanted the job and I just decided to come along to be her driver, to help out.”
Each Wednesday, the Hicks arrive at the Times office at 6:30 in the morning, where Gary and Sheila Burke are also doing essential work in organizing, labelling and sorting newspapers to go out.
“We just load the papers onto the truck, and then we’re off for the day,” said Bev.
It takes the Hicks about four hours to complete their 95-kilometre route – dropping papers off at the stores in Minden before heading for Carnarvon, to West Guilford, to Eagle Lake, to Haliburton and then back to Minden to stop in at the stores that weren’t open earlier.
Bev, who is a church pastor, said it’s during that time that he and Pat reflect.
“It’s a time we enjoy together,” he said. “Usually it’s just a quiet time, we’re away from everything, except what we do on the route.”
It’s not always a routine trip. Once, the Hicks spotted what appeared to be two lost dogs running down the road between Eagle Lake and Haliburton. After calling the dogs into the vehicle, they called Canoe FM having recalled hearing on the radio that a family was missing their pets.
“They just seemed to be very, very similar to the description on Canoe radio,” said Bev. One of the dogs had been described as having a green collar.
“Well, lo and behold, the one dog had a green collar,” said Bev.
The dogs had been missing for more than a week, and the family was surprised and excited to hear good news and have their pets back in their home. The Hicks chalk it up to being in the right place at the right time.
“I said, no problem, it’s just a good thing we happened to be delivering papers that day and we just happened to come across them on the road,” said Bev.
“That was a perk, that was a real perk,” said Pat.
Bev and Pat have long worked out the delivery system that works best for them, often parking, separating, and meeting back at the truck.
“We just stop and get a coffee, something for breakfast, and we just kind of do our own thing,” said Pat. “You get so you could do it with your eyes shut because you’ve memorized the route.”
“She’ll go one way and I’ll go another way,” said Bev.
“You get to know the people in the stores,” said Pat. “They might not know your name, but you have a little chitchat with them, and it’s good. Some of the places, you get to know some of the cashiers. I don’t know their names, but they see you and you say, ‘hi,’ and ‘yep, hopefully it’s not going to snow today,’ and you’re on your way.”
Along the route, or sometimes when it’s done and the Hicks can sit with a coffee and tea, they read the paper – sometimes they’re the first readers after the papers come in from the truck.
“If the papers are late, and we’re later getting there, they notice,” said Pat. “Everyone’s kind of scheduled, they kind of know within a 15-minute radius that you’re going to be there. There are some in the convenience stores that are there, and as soon as you put the paper down, they’ve picked it up.”
The early start time doesn’t bother the Hicks much – Bev said when he worked at GM, a lot of the start-times were at six in the morning, so, “it’s not really that bad, starting at 6:30 in Minden.”
“It’s dark,” said Pat.
“It’s dark,” agreed Bev. “And then when we get into the warmer season it’s nice to be there to see the sun rise.”