The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

March 4, 2013

Carol Stark: Globe bestows "degree"to longtime paper carrier

JOPLIN, Mo. — Here’s hoping that Gretchen Caldwell is sleeping in this morning. She deserves a lazy morning in bed. After all, for the past 31 years, the Joplin woman has been making sure that those who wake up on her route have a Joplin Globe waiting for them.

Yes, I said 31 years.

Thirty-one years is a long time to do anything. But it’s an especially long time to be responsible for newspaper delivery seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Feb. 28 was Gretchen’s last day on the job. One of her appreciative customers, Don Landrith, brought me the letter she sent out and asked me to find a way to do something special for her.

But Jack Kaminsky, the Joplin Globe circulation director, has taken care of Gretchen in a rather grand way.

He’s named her one of our Doctors of Delivery.

That’s a honor that started here at the Globe quite a few years ago. The “doctorate” degree is presented to newspaper carriers who have been on a route for more than 30 years.

Gretchen is only the fifth person to achieve the status, at least in recent history. She began her job throwing newspaper just a short time after I started working in the Globe’s Carthage bureau office.

Our paths never crossed, although from time to time over the past few years she has penned the occasional letter to the editor. My admiration and appreciation is great.

If it wasn’t for carriers like Gretchen, my job would be a lot harder.

In case you are wondering about the other six carriers who have DODs, they include Doug Allard, of Nevada, who started his route in the early 1970s. The other three, Carl Taylor, Dick Allison and Carl Moore, all of Joplin, are all deceased.

Gretchen, in her letter to her customers, noted that the “31 years have been fraught with thunder, lightning, rain, sleet, snow, ice and dogs (and oh, yes, a tornado).”

“For the most part I have enjoyed every day. The best parts have been the quiet time that I spend in prayer each morning and meeting some of the most wonderful people who I will always consider to be friends,” Gretchen wrote.

Many who lived on Gretchen’s route were affected by the tornado. She continued to carry papers to those who still had homes. She told us that she considers this her retirement, but that she will miss her customers, some of whom are almost like family.

No wonder Don Landrith wanted Gretchen to get some special recognition. Sounds like she was the kind of person we should all aspire to be.

Good luck, Gretchen. We wish you well after all your hard work for us.

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