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Monday, 17 June 2013

The Paper Boy

By Ralph Lymburner

The other morning at 5AM, I went out to get my newspaper which is usually sitting in the driveway. As I walked out, I spied the car with the person who delivers my paper.

His requirement is to be on time and toss the paper in the driveway. As he approached my driveway, he put his coffee mug down and gave the paper a toss through the open window, out onto the wet lawn.

I was amazed at the fairly new car, the coffee mug and the casual toss. I thought, that’s not the way we did it back in the day in Maine.

Towards the end of World War II when I was nine or 10 years old (who remembers exactly), I decided I wanted to earn my own money. With my mother’s approval, we called the distributor of the local newspaper and applied for a job.

We were told they had a morning and afternoon route of the newspaper in my area and I could have the job. I chose the morning route as the evening person had to deliver the Sunday paper.

As I trod the mile to the corner where my first bundle would be, I noticed there was something not quite right. As I approached, I saw the biggest dog I had ever seen sitting on my papers.

I was ready to quit right then and there but I kept attempting to coax the monster and he finally got up and lumbered towards me. He was the largest St. Bernard possible. He checked me out and walked away.

Many times I would spot him along the route and we would have a chat while he followed for a few blocks.

Occasionally my bundle of papers would contain a message from headquarters. The ones with printing in red indicated that I had made a mistake in my delivery - such as not placing the paper in the proper area or torn papers caused by the required mail slot not being large enough.

On Fridays I made my weekly collections. I had to collect $.30 per week and earned $.05. My favorite people were the ones who would give me $.50 or $1.00 and tell me to keep the change.

I had an apartment house on my route which made things a lot easier. I just walked up the hallway dropping papers at the appropriate door, then onto the next floor. This stop allowed me the chance to get warm on cold days.

Finally, I came to the last stop where I found another bundle of papers. The location was the city hospital. Everything usually proceeded smoothly until the fateful day that brought the ire of a patient and what seemed to be the entire hospital staff.

I had knocked on the door and proceeded to enter the room. I asked if they would like to purchase a newspaper for a nickel. Well, the screaming coming forth would wake the dead and brought forth every nurse on the floor.

The head shouted, “Get out of here and stay off of this floor.”

After calming down, she relented and said the nurses would make the rounds and determine who wanted to purchase a paper. When I arrived, I went to the nursing station and delivered the quantity requested and collected the money.

How was I to know that young boys weren’t supposed to know about breast feeding. I just assumed that the baby ate like everyone else.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Interesting story and a funny ending. It shows how our society has changed.

My husband told many similar stories about his paper route in Fort Wayne, Indiana in the late 1940's. He had a number of subscribers who just would not answer the door on Fridays because they could not pay.

Oh how funny. I'm so glad for the sake of the paperboy that they've gone to mail collecting for the bill. But I wish kids could deliver papers again. It was one of the few jobs they could do to earn money. Thanks for sharing your memories.

What ahout the paper dog, he should get some credit for his loyalty? Maybe the title could have been Paper Dog and his Paper Boy?

Just kidding, great story as usual Ralph, good to have you back.

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