A subscriber for a long lifetime

2013-06-06 00:00

YVONNE Holman has subscribed to The Witness for 76 years, and has been reading the paper for longer than that.

On Monday, Holman will be celebrating her 100th birthday, and with her blood pressure being better than her daughter’s, she is still going strong. Living in Pietermaritzburg her whole life, Holman has witnessed the changes that the city has undergone and the evolution of the oldest newspaper in the country.

She has been a Witness reader since the twenties and became a subscriber in 1937.

“My mother used to subscribe to the paper before me … and my daughter does too — it’s a real family thing. My brother always wanted the paper first thing in the morning. He used to say: ‘Mom, I want the newspaper. I want to keep up with the news of the day’,” said a smiling Holman as she reminisced about her first encounters with the newspaper.

Like her brother, she was also very interested in the news and what was happening in her town.

The Witness was not only her source of news — it has become a part of her life. She put in birth notices for her two children, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. “I always put notices in The Witness for all the children, and I put in engagement and wedding notices.

“Oh, I must tell you, things back then were so cheap. The newspaper only cost 15 cents. In the old days, we called it a ‘tickey’, a ‘tickey a day’. You got the paper delivered to your door every day and then on Saturdays everyone got a jar of cream free with their newspaper.”

The changes in society that Holman has seen are reflected in the news she now reads.

“When I worked in the post office, we used to work night shift, ending at nine. I was not afraid at all to walk home alone at that time, but these days you wouldn’t dream of it.”

On how the paper has changed, Holman said: “Sometimes I’d rather not read it, because it’s full of bad news, but that’s because there is only bad news. That is a pity. And you have to put it in the paper, otherwise people will say: ‘Well, why didn’t you put that in the paper?’.”

Despite these changes, Holman remains a loyal reader. Her favourite sections include the crossword and the letter section: “I love doing the crossword to keep my mind active. I even won two guineas from the paper once for the crossword.”

Holman sends articles from the newspaper to her daughter in Canada, so that she always knows what is happening in her home town.

Excited about her upcoming birthday, Holman said her secret to longevity is healthy eating. She is the second centenarian in her family to be featured in The Witness. “You [The Witness] came to interview my old uncle when he turned 101. His name was Tinky Jones and the head line was ‘Ton up for Tinky Jones’,” said a laughing Holman.

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