Postman Paul held to the creed - even at gunpoint

WHEN Paul Ryan thinks back on his work in Ballina over the past 48 years, he can be assured that he upheld the creed of his job - even at gunpoint.

The Ballina postie last week delivered his last mail.

We all know the postie creed that the mail must get through "rain, hail or shine".

You can add gunpoint to that for Mr Ryan.

He recalls once stopping at a mailbox in town and seeing a gentleman aiming a rifle through the window of his home.

"I knew the man and said g'day to him," he said.

But the mail had to get through.

"The police told me after, 'You could have been killed'," he said.

That wasn't Mr Ryan's only incident with the police in the line of duty.

He remembers another occasion he was ordered by the police to go home.

"We were told by the boss that we had to catch up on the mail and I was out after dark when a cyclone came through," he said.

"The police saw me and told me I had to go home."

He remembered pushing his postie bicycle across the old Missingham Bridge during a storm, and the bridge, as regularly happened, was under water.

The police had closed the bridge, but Mr Ryan waited for the wave sets to pass by, and went across anyway.

He started in the job in 1966 as a 16-year-old telegram boy, then progressed to mail deliveries with a carry bag and then the pushie.

It wasn't until the early 1970s that the Ballina posties got motorbikes.

And Mr Ryan finished his career pushing the trolley around the Ballina CBD as his last beat.

When he started, Ballina had only two posties and a part-timer, delivering only to Ballina township.

Now there are 12, and the beats include Lennox Head, Wardell and West Ballina which was just cane farms when Mr Ryan started.

Mr Ryan, who grew up in Ballina, said he had got to know many families around town through his deliveries.

Of course, he counts the years by Christmases, which have been the busiest time of year - he had 49 Christmases on the job.

He plans to enjoy some fishing in retirement, and riding his own pushbike - without stopping at any mailboxes.