Freda Edwards recently retired after nearly 45 years as a News Journal rural route carrier. But due to the Great Blizzard of 1978, she almost quit shortly after she started the daily deliveries.

“Being on back roads and everything, it was terrifying to me. I was ready to quit then and there,” she recalled.

Edwards remembers driving through a “tunnel of snow” on Roshon Road near Sabina, praying she wouldn’t meet anybody in another vehicle driving the opposite direction.

She began as a newspaper carrier on a small route in October 1977 when her children were in the upper grades and she saw it as a way to supplement her and her husband’s income to help pay for the things their children were involved in. After they graduated and were out on their own, she thinks the empty nest syndrome may have had something to do with her staying on the job.

Being on the front lines of customer service allowed her to meet a lot of nice people, said Edwards.

“You get acquainted with them, and get to be friends with them,” she explained of her almost daily journeys. She still has a lot of friends who were her customers.

The frequent stops-and-starts of rural route driving were hard on her car, especially the brakes and transmission.

As the years and newspaper presses rolled on, the News Journal knew they had a good thing and offered her more and more to do. She took on the position of coordinator in the back room where at the time advertising circulars were inserted by hand inside the news product. This was in addition to her rural route delivery.

She also would collect the coins in newspaper vending machines.

One memory that stands out pertains to the 1994 murder of 88-year-old Myrtle Rutledge, whom Edwards said was a customer and a friend.

She remembers the early morning on the route when she noticed that the light was on in Rutledge’s upstairs bedroom.

“I thought that’s unusual — it had never been on with me coming that early,” said Edwards.

As it turned out, Rutledge had been fatally beaten and stabbed by James R. Goff.

“Bless her heart, she was a small petite lady. I guess she put up a good fight. She was a very, very sweet lady; she would do anything for anybody,” Edwards said.

Five years ago, the longtime News Journal carrier won the Ohio News Media Association 2017 Ohio Newspaper Carrier of the Year Award in the senior division.

She liked giving the newsroom tips about what was going on in her part of Clinton County, and would bring in home-baked goods, too.

Now the subject of a news story herself, Edwards thanked “all the people who stood by me all those years and bought the News Journal.”


By Gary Huffenberger

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