Kent County crash claims ‘mail girls’

The Beacon Herald - - NEWS - ELL­WOOD SHREVE

KENT BRIDGE — Joyce Bowls says Jen­nifer Brown and Eileen His­cock were more than a daugh­ter and daugh­ter-in-law to her.

“They were my best friends,” the 81 year old said, hold­ing back tears at times as she re­called the count­less hours they spent to­gether help­ing her com­plete her ru­ral mail route.

Bowls’ daugh­ter Jen­nifer, 62, of Kent Bridge, and daugh­ter-in-law Eileen, 63, of nearby North­wood, died in a three-ve­hi­cle crash on Tues­day on Kent Bridge Road near River Line.

The pain is ev­i­dent on Bowls’ face as her voice trails off af­ter men­tion­ing Jen­nifer and Eileen were do­ing her route for her while she was on hol­i­days when the tragic crash oc­curred.

Bowls said Jen­nifer and Eileen were ded­i­cated to help­ing her at­tain a per­sonal goal of hav­ing her fam­ily pro­vide mail ser­vice in the com­mu­nity for 100 con­sec­u­tive years.

“She’s been my con­stant help,” she said of Eileen, who has helped her with the route for the past decade, know­ing Bowls had this mile­stone she wanted to reach.

Bowls said the more than 250 stops on her route once took her about six hours to com­plete.

“With Eileen’s help, we had it whit­tled down to about 4½ hours,” she said. “She was a great worker.”

Bowls said Jen­nifer has helped her with the route since she was in her youth.

She re­called the “won­der­ful con­ver­sa­tions” she would have with both of them while de­liv­er­ing the mail.

“I could write a 10-vol­ume book and still not touch on ev­ery­thing we did to­gether,” Bowls said.

Not­ing that Jen­nifer and Eileen were af­fec­tion­ately known as “the mail girls” in the area, Bowls said, “to be truth­ful, I wanted these two girls to take over for me.”

She proudly shares her fam­ily’s his­tory with Canada Post that be­gan on Nov. 11, 1918, when her fa­ther, Lester Pet­ti­p­iece, be­gan de­liv­er­ing mail by horse and buggy, just shy of his 16th birth­day. He would be helped of­ten by his sib­lings.

Bowls said her grand­mother would heat bricks in the oven to put on the floor of the buggy to keep their feet from freez­ing in the win­ter. She added they would al­ter­nate hold­ing the reins with one hand while sit­ting on the other hand to keep it warm while driv­ing the buggy.

In 1953, her mother Bertha Pet­ti­p­iece, be­gan op­er­at­ing the North­wood Post Of­fice out of their fam­ily home un­til 1969. The fam­ily home was once lo­cated be­side where Bowls lives in the tiny ham­let south of Kent Bridge with her hus­band, Reg.

When her fa­ther died in 1969, Bowls said her brother, Ed Gore, took over the ru­ral route be­fore she took it on in 1978.

Bowls was once con­fi­dent she would reach the 100 years of con­tin­u­ous mail ser­vice by her fam­ily, but that is in se­ri­ous doubt now.

“I don’t know what the fu­ture brings,” she said, adding it would be dif­fi­cult for her to go back to do­ing the route with­out some­one help­ing her.

Her son, Mark Bowls, Eileen’s long­time part­ner, is proud of her com­mit­ment to help­ing his mother. “I called her a dou­ble-winged an­gel for what she did for mother,” he said.

He joked that Jen­nifer and Eileen were truly like sis­ters, of­ten squab­bling with each other, but al­ways there for each other due to their close friend­ship.

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