Long run of deliveries nears an end
After 53 years, millions of kilometres, thousands of early mornings and an unthinkable amount of petrol, a Winton postie is calling it a day.
At 21, Ray Cosgrove used his savings to buy into a Central Southland rural delivery run, and began loading letters into a Hansa station wagon. The Hansa might be long gone and the delivery route altered but, more than half a century later, Mr Cosgrove and his wife, Debbie, are still delivering mail to rural Southlanders.
Mr Cosgrove bought the rural run in September 1960 and stepping into the role was not as easy as many people, including the urban posties, often thought, he said.
"It takes you a year, at least, to learn the mail run properly. It'd be near impossible for someone to come off the street and do it."
With 400 mail boxes along the run and sometimes three or four people living at each address, there was quite a list of names to memorise, he said.
It also meant there was no time to stop and chat with residents along the way.
Even if he only stopped an extra 30 seconds at every mail box, the chit chat would add more than three hours to an already six-and-a-half-hour run, Mr Cosgrove said.
Despite this, the mailman did find time to stop and save a rabbit one morning, pulling the "poor little bugger" from the jaws of a ferret after spying him on the roadside.
There was also the time he paused to check on a dying owl, which now sits taxidermied on top of a bookshelf in his living room.
However, through rain or shine, sleet or snow, the mail was always delivered, he said.
"I've never struck a day where I couldn't get through. There's been days perhaps where I shouldn't have got through, but I did."
For the past six years, Mrs Cosgrove has handled most of the route, driving 130,000km in the past two years. As she will take up a new position next year, the pair decided it was time to say goodbye to the rural delivery run.
The Cosgroves will make their final delivery on December 31.
- © Fairfax NZ News