American Snapshot: Wisconsin Paper Carriers

American Snap Shot

Long before most creatures stir on a bright and bitter Wisconsin the Maves get ready to make their morning rounds.

For 54 years, Laverne Mave, 87, and his wife Beverly, 83, have risen before dawn to make sure the "Wisconsin State Journal" is properly assembled and delivered to the people of Edgerton, their tiny town of roughly 5,000.

At 3:30 a.m., their ritual of bundling newspapers begins, a rhythm they've perfected over more than half a century.

Beverly says she and her husband started doing their paper route back in 1953 because, "well, we wasn't making enough money."

Back then, Laverne's shoe factory job couldn't support his growing family. So he hired some local kids and started delivering papers. To this day, his own three boys still work for him: Glenn, 62, Keith, 60 and Dale, 56.

"As soon as I got 12 and I could do it, I started doing it," says Dale with a smile. He always knew it was expected of him and didn't question it.

Laverne and Beverly load up their Oldsmobile and drive into the darkness seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The Maves say they don't mind waking up in the middle of night.

"Yeah, I've always been a morning person," says Beverly.

"For one thing, you don't meet a lot of traffic," Laverne adds, with a laugh.

Beverly folds and Laverne throws -- when he can get the car close enough.

Otherwise, he delivers papers the old fashioned way, right to the door. He's a little wobbly now, but still so proud to earn 14 cents per paper, 39 cents on Sundays.

At the company that publishes the newspaper they've delivered all these years their longtime boss Susan Baumgartner says she could hardly ask for a more trustworthy twosome.

Even in the bleakest Wisconsin winters, Baumgartner says, they always go out. "Well they put on their shoes and they go out in their boots and they go out and they do their newspapers and they don't complain about it."

In Edgerton, Laverne and Beverly are local institutions. After all, they've delivered the morning headlines since President Eisenhower was in the White House, gasoline sold for 29 cents a gallon and television was still a novelty.

"They're always Johnny on the spot, I'll tell you that, because my paper's always here a little after five every single morning," says Joane Lyke, a longtime customer.

"No complaints, no complaints. I don't think you'll ever hear a complaint about them. You know, they do a real good job," says another customer, Bernard Hron.

Still, the long Wisconsin winters are clearly taking their toll.

The Maves may soon call it quits, because as Laverne says "the age is catching up."

For now though they're going to keep on completing their rounds, deep in the autumn of their lives, because they know if they stop, they'll miss it very much.

"When they leave and they retire, we're losing something that we're probably never going to see again," says Baumgartner.

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