Shortly after giving birth to her first child in 1975, Linda Livingstone signed on with the relatively newborn Beach Metro Community News to make deliveries of a different kind.
For the past 40 years Livingstone has been dropping off issues of the paper to the porches and mailboxes of residents on her Beach street, making her one of Beach Metro’s longest-serving volunteers.
The May 5 issue was her last delivery, however, as she looks forward to having some extra free time for travelling, hobbies and family commitments.
“I just had my sixth grandchild and I love spending time with them,” she said. “My family is getting bigger and I love to be with them. I still have my mom. She’ll be 90 this year. So it’s really a family time for me.”
Livingstone’s involvement with Beach Metro grew from a desire to meet and get to know her neighbours. She was already an avid reader of the paper, so when a call went out for a carrier in her neighbourhood, she quickly applied. From that point on she showed an unwavering commitment, rarely missing a delivery, even during the pregnancies and births of three more children.
“I had home births and I would literally give birth and then deliver my bundle,” she said.
She fondly recalls neighbours, over the years, inviting her back for a glass of wine after finishing her route, or sending her the occasional little thank you card, gestures that proved her initial objective of making friends of neighbours had been fulfilled.
“The kids would be out front on their bicycles, and the moms would be sitting on the porch and you could say ‘Watch the kids while I check my potatoes.’ That kind of thing.”
Livingstone, who was born at Toronto East General Hospital 66 years ago and has spent her whole life in the Beach area, is not just a familiar face to the people on her paper route. After being a stay-at-home mom for many years, the statuesque Livingstone was propelled into the modelling world at the age of 40 when she was discovered while taking a self-improvement course through a modelling agency.
“This gentleman came over to me and said ‘Are you studying to be a model? And I said ‘No, I’m a mom and I’m very happy.’ And he said ‘would you like to model?’ and I said ‘No, thank you.’ and he said ‘Would you ask your family?”
This instructor’s perseverance motivated Livingstone to ask her family that very night and their response was an enthusiastic “Go for it!” The next thing she knew she was in a Yorkville hair salon getting her waist-length hair cut. Soon after she was whisked off on a flight to Montreal and onto the runways of major fashion shows.
She retired six years ago but for 20 years Livingstone spent lots of time doing runway work in Europe as well as here at home, and graced the pages of popular magazines such as Chatelaine, Canadian Living, and Zoomer as well as Sears and The Bay publications. She appeared frequently on Citytv’s Cityline and did background work in movies and television, something she really enjoyed.
“I found background work was lots of fun, being regularly with other people and the crews that you got to know so well and the movie stars that were just so lovely,” said Livingstone.
Her decision to let her hair grey naturally has been an inspirational choice for many women of a similar decision-making age. And when, several years ago, she cropped her silver locks into a pixie style, she often received compliments.
“So many women stopped me and said ‘I’ve been dying my hair and when I saw your short hair I just cut all the dye off and let it grow in and it’s the best thing I ever did,” she said. “As our faces age, that’s almost nature’s way of softening the frame around our face. I think it’s beautiful.”
With her retirement from Beach Metro delivery duties, Livingstone will have more time to devote to another passion: quilting. She recently returned from a week-long trip to Kentucky and Indiana, seeing quilts from around the world and buying fabric for her own creations.
She will also have more time to just read the paper, a paper no doubt dropped off on her porch by her successor.
“I think that our newspaper is such a vital link to our community. I think that people should go through it with their pen and circle the activities, read the names of all the children and all the people that are featured, because it’s just so wonderful. I would shudder to think that people would put that in their recycling without having read it.”