Special edition: Today marks last time on newspaper route for Barkuloo
WORTHINGTON — Through rain, sleet, snow, bitter cold temperatures and the darkness of night, Chuck Barkuloo has ensured Daily Globe readers in parts of Worthington a newspaper on their doorstep no matter what Mother Nature may have done to try to slow him down.
And, while Mother Nature is delivering an almost unbearable week of below-zero windchills here in southwest Minnesota, it isn’t the reason Barkuloo is calling it quits after delivering this morning’s edition of the local news. The 80-something-year-old simply said it was time to retire. He announced his intentions to his family on Thanksgiving Day to cheers from his wife Shirley, kids and grandkids.
Barkuloo’s 20-plus year career as a Daily Globe carrier began when he helped a grandson establish a paper route and became a stand-by when the route ultimately transferred to his daughter. Sometime during the 1990s, Barkuloo took on the responsibility full-time and eventually took on three routes. Today he delivers his last 95 papers to residents in the West Shore neighborhood, and along McMillan Avenue from Worthington’s Post Office to Wal-Mart.
“It all evolved,” he said Monday afternoon, as snow flurries danced passed his living room window.
Yes, one more day trudging through inclement weather, he said with a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes.
Barkuloo’s reliability will be missed not only by the subscribers who were on his route, but by the Daily Globe as well.
“He just was one of the best carriers we’ve ever had,” said Denise Erwin, a customer service representative and former circulation manager for the newspaper. “He’s going to be tough to replace.
“We’ve got a few carriers like him that just go above and beyond,” she added. “He just did a fabulous job over the years and he’ll be missed.”
In more recent years, Barkuloo had taken to delivering the papers by vehicle instead of by walking.
“It’s a lot of area, especially on the west shore, and those are long driveways — it takes a long time to walk those,” he said. “I pretty much drive into as many driveways as I can. I’ve got a couple of places where I do three houses at one time.”
Barkuloo was one of the Globe’s paper carriers to arrive at the printing building before the latest edition had completely rolled off the presses. He would wait for the bundles to be ready, then load them up and take them out on his routes. Oftentimes, subscribers had their newspaper between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m.
“If (subscribers) were touched with insomnia … they got up and the paper was there,” he said.
“I think a lot of people appreciated his early morning delivery,” added Shirley.
To deliver his newspapers in the middle of the night, Barkuloo’s schedule included going to sleep at 6 p.m., rising by 11 p.m., and returning home by 3:30 a.m. — giving him time for another snooze before morning. Adjusting to more normal sleep habits in retirement, he realizes, is going to take some time.
“Both of us have kind of gotten into the routine of this,” he said with a nod to his wife. “Shirley would read and I’d go to bed.”
Now, Barkuloo is looking forward to staying up later in the evening — perhaps catching the entire Gophers basketball game instead of just the first half, he said with a smile.
While he won’t miss anything about his paper routes, he said the work was a good form of exercise, and the extra money came in handy as well.
“I used to, in the spring, summer and fall, jog or run between houses and streets,” he said of his younger days as a paper carrier. “But, I’ve slowed down.”
One of Barkuloo’s fondest memories of delivering the Daily Globe was during a blizzard several years ago, when the streets in the West Shore Drive neighborhood were impassable with his car. He returned to the Globe to find then-publisher Dennis Hall checking in at the printing operation.
“He said, ‘I’ve got a four-wheel drive, come on, I’ll take you,’” Barkuloo recalled. “Between the two of us, we got the route done. It was so deep out there, I was up to my knees in snow — it was bad. That’s probably the worst one I remember.”
After today, Barkuloo’s role as a paper carrier will be nothing but memories … the bad weather and the good people.
“It’s been enjoyable,” he said. “A lot of the customers have been very, very kind and generous.”
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.