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From Cradle To College

20 Years Bonding Over The Neighborhood Newspaper

By Elizabeth “Betty” MacMillan, Special to the GPHN

Lauren and Betty MacMillan, delivering the last paper route together before Lauren heads off to Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Photo by Cara DeGette

I’ve lived in the 1700 block of Ivy Street for most of my life. I am a longtime reader of the Greater Park Hill News, and delivered it for many years until my granddaughter, Lauren, took over the route. She has helped deliver the paper since she was born and will be stopping this fall to go off to college.

The Greater Park Hill News has always counted on volunteers to deliver its paper to each house in Park Hill. There have been many loyal members of the neighborhood who have walked around their block for many years. But few of them, if any, can claim that they have walked around their block delivering the GPHN all their lives.

Lauren MacMillan can.

She made her first trip in her buggy in 1997 when she was only a few weeks old, the papers tucked at her feet, ready for me to take to each front door. By the time she could sit up securely, she graduated to a stroller. The stroller continued to hold the papers while Lauren wanted to walk, holding my hand. Before long she was running up to each door while I waited on the sidewalk with the papers.

There was a big white shaggy dog chained in one front yard that barked loudly at passersby. For several years, Lauren and I had to cross the street, and she would wait while I took the paper back over, went by the dog and made the delivery.  Eventually, Lauren got brave enough to go with me. There were other dogs on the route, but they were friendlier.

By middle school, Lauren knew all the houses, their histories and where to put their papers. She also knew all the trees. When her neighborhood first was built in the mid-1920s, the parkways held poplars, elms and some maples. The poplars are all gone now, as are most elms. Some maples are still there, including one that is 91 years old. She also knows the age of an elm tree on her parkway that sprouted from a seed the year her father was born. Now there are also catalpas, honey locusts, aspens, a large English oak, plum, birches, and spruces that she can identify.

The block has changed, too. From a variety of mostly simple one-story houses, Lauren has watched as new additions, patios, and fences were added; bigger garages were built. There are no longer ash pits and garbage pails. They have been replaced by blue recycling and green composting bins in the alley.

Eight houses on the block have added second stories through a variety of “pop-ups,” including the one where Lauren lives, which was originally built in 1926 by her great-great grandfather. She has watched each one of them being built, noting the various stages of the new construction.

In 2011, Lauren officially took over the route around the block.  She still makes the familiar trek every month often accompanied by a friend or an aunt, uncle, cousin, brother, mother, or her father.

Lauren will be heading to college at CSU in Fort Collins this fall, so she will probably be making her last walks this summer, accompanied again by me in my wheelchair. The wheelchair now holds the papers. I wait on the sidewalk while Lauren runs up to the door to leave the paper, where she has placed it so many times before.

Editor’s note: The MacMillans have indicated other family members plan to continue the tradition of delivering the Greater Park Hill News each month. Is your blockworker as inspiring as Lauren and Betty MacMillan? Nominate her, or him, for a blockworker of the month profile in the newspaper by contacting editor@greaterparkhill.org.


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