Sun | May 26, 2019

50 years not out! - 88-year-old Hilda Williams, Gleaner vendor for half a century

Published:Thursday | February 23, 2017 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist
A bag crocheted by Hilda Williams.
Hilda Williams displays her medal she received for long service at the Lumsden post office.


Put it down to her love of reading. Hilda Williams Jones became attached to The Gleaner while she was still in school at Brittonville Primary in St Ann, becoming a regular reader as a child.

As an avid reader during her adult years in the late 1960s, she was perplexed when she learnt that The Gleaner vendor in Lumsden, St Ann, at the time, was giving up the job.

She promptly applied to sell the newspaper as she could not bear to think that maybe she wouldn't be able to get it on a regular basis, to read anymore.

So on February 17, 1967, Williams began selling The Gleaner, even while holding down a job at the post office in that central St Ann community, located near Bamboo.

On Friday, February 17, 2017, 50 years later, Hilda Williams, now Jones, still sells The Gleaner.

When The Gleaner news team visited her at home in Forest, a village located about a mile from Lumsden, Miss Hilda as she is known, came out of the house smiling, decked in a red and while dress and joking about observing Valentine's Day, the day before.

Asked if the milestone of 50 years meant anything to her, she replied:

"Yes because I used to take it (The Gleaner) from the man who was selling it and him just stop all of a sudden. And I love to read my Gleaner, so I was working at the Postal Agency so I said, well, I will ask them to sell it. At that time it was a fellow named Palmer who used to carry The Gleaner, so him go in an' tell dem seh me would sell it for them."

She remembered that it was raining when she got the first delivery of newspaper as the new vendor, selling from the post office.

"Dem just come right up there so (she points to the roadside near her house) and talk to me and tell me they will leave whatever at the post office."

Today, she sells The Sunday Gleaner and Star, after delivery of the Daily Gleaner was discontinued at that location.

A lot of things have happened, for her, in those 50 years that she has been a Gleaner vendor.




Miss Hilda married and later became a widow. She also completed 55 years "and a month" working at the post office and retired. Miss Hilda was later recognised by the government and given a medal for long service in the field.

She also served as Jamaica Agricultural Society secretary for the area for 12 years and was instrumental in getting electricity to the area and getting roads repaired.

Miss Hilda also worked as presiding officer 10 times during the period, and also worked as a census taker, remuneration clerk (the last time was in 1997), a teacher at basic school level and at the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy.

During the time, she also formed a baking club with other ladies and would meet at her place and bake an assortment of products including wedding and birthday cakes, sweet potato puddings and the popular Jamaican snack, bulla. Today, she is the sole survivor of the baking club and manages to bake her potato pudding now and again.

There was also another club that focused on crochet, knitting, embroidery and tie and dye. She had items from that latter club to show The Gleaner.

She also did a little farming and in fact, still does.

"Friday here I get some okra down where I plant," she revealed.

Through all of this, one thing remained constant - being a Gleaner vendor.

She was asked if she ever considered giving up the position.

"No, because I want to read," was her prompt reply. "I read all the time and now when me have the time I do the (crossword) puzzle."

She now has a penchant for doing crossword puzzles, so much so that she requested and got some crossword puzzle books from a friend.

"Now she won't go a har bed a night time, all two o'clock she siddung up a do puzzle," her son Peter, who was standing there silently all along, said jokingly.

But he conceded: "Dem things deh keep her occupied and keep her mind relaxed."