MARTINSBURG - "I know it's a dream ... but I'd like to get my paper free now," laughs Edna Brumbaugh, 86, of Martinsburg, a longtime Mirror carrier who gave up her route at the end of 2012 after 29 years of service. "I enjoyed it. I hated to give it up."
According to her daughter, Lisa Brumbaugh, Jan. 1 was the first day her mother hadn't worked since she was a teenager.
"Since I was 13," Edna corrected her.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Edna Brumbaugh and her daughter, Lisa, sit together at Edna’s kitchen table at her home in Martinsburg. Edna was contracted to deliver the Altoona Mirror for 29 years.
"She liked making people happy," Lisa said. "She wanted to do a good job."
'She's always worked'
Edna's time as an independent contractor began when she was in her mid-50s and had already finished a 20-year career as an order picker for Warnaco Group Inc. in Duncansville.
Lisa, then 13 years old, had picked up a delivery route to make extra money in high school. Edna helped out from time to time, but when Lisa went to Lock Haven University six years later, she decided to take over the route.
She thought it would be a good way to get exercise, do something good for the community and keep herself busy.
"She's always worked," Lisa said, and added that her mother liked how the early-morning delivery time left afternoons free for other responsibilities.
Edna also took care of her husband full-time, after he suffered a stroke in 1971 until his death in 2002.
Lisa also said her mother took her older neighbors to doctor appointments, whenever they needed her.
Edna also volunteered for 15 years at Townes Edge restaurant in Martinsburg, said owner Don Weyandt.
"Whatever we needed her to do," she would do it, he said, from helping in the kitchen to cleaning up out front.
"She was always dependable," he said.
All who know her said a strong work ethic is part of Edna's identity.
Martie Kreider, a Mirror subscriber whose paper Edna delivered for nearly three decades, said she didn't realize how lucky she was until friends told her their paper didn't always arrive consistently or that they would have to look around their yard for it.
"Our paper was always on time in the years of the afternoon deliveries, and when [the Mirror] went to early mornings, so did our papers. Very early," she said.
Mirror Circulation Manager Dan Slep said Edna was one of the Mirror's best independent contractors. He said subscribers expect delivery, and it's only when something goes wrong that anyone notices.
Slep said the rigors of the seven-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year job typically mean high turnover among carriers.
"She made our job easy. ... [Her replacement] has a lot to live up to. The bar has been set high," Slep said.
Kreider called Edna's work ethic one of "quiet devotion" - she worked tirelessly, never expecting anything in return, never looking for praise.
"She's a good example for today's time," Kreider said.
In October, Edna began suffering from congestive heart failure, forcing her decision to retire.
Now she is making time for herself: completing word find puzzles, watching "American Idol" or the Gaither Vocal Band and listening to the radio.
She's also fond of her "granddogs" Pepper and Cinnamon, 5-year-old miniature pinscher-beagle-Chihuahua mixes, and has quite the green thumb. Lisa said her mother will remain a "Jack of all trades."
But retirement isn't going to slow down Edna too much.
She said she's continuing with a plan she hatched after a bank was built near her home a few years ago. She told friends she planned to erect a post in her yard with a sign that reads "Night deposits." Failing that scheme, she asked neighbors for help tunnelling under her house and into the bank's vault. According to Edna, no one would conspire with her.
Picturing the octogenarian, shovel in hand, drew a laugh from her daughter. "She's a spitfire," Lisa said. "That's her and you wouldn't want her any other way."
No matter whether Edna ever mysteriously comes into money - and the bank vault simultaneously becomes empty - fond memories of her time delivering the paper remain.
"I always wanted to treat my customers like I would want somebody to treat me," Edna said. "I never thought I'd get in the paper for delivering the paper."
Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.