Saturday, October 8, 2011


A hard-won comment in the “newspaper” post  (hard-won because it’s been like Blue Heck trying to comment here or anywhere else, lately.   Most days I cannot even answer the nice people who chime in with memories and other nice things to say) spoke of my friend Mike’s own experience as a Paper-Boy.   

I’ll let him tell it in his own words (in italics):

GRIT !!! I used to read about this tremendous money maker in the backs of comic books as a kid, along with the seed pack business and joke magic cards for sale. I used to ask my parents if I could start selling GRIT and they'd always dismiss me. ("why NOT??? It says earn money for college! Don't you want me to go to college?" answer: "It's not a real paper, Mike, it's just junk to take your money.") Today is the first day in my life I have heard of a soul that has actually laid eyes on a hard copy of that paper.

There was a hefty commission, and prizes for the enterprising:

Once I came of suitable age (12 or 13) I started delivering the "real" paper on my bike. The now-defunct Richmond News-Leader. The RNL was one fo two survivors of a newspaper Darwin-fest in the 40's, when there were two mornings, the Times and the Dispatch, and two afternoons, the News and the Daily Leader. The local news-baron Bryan family owned the News and the Dispatch, gobbled up the competition, merged the circulation and the names, and cornered the news market. For a time they owned almost all the TV and radio in the area as well until the feds stepped in on that. Anyway, unless I wanted to get up at 4 AM weekdays and 3 AM Sundays, the News Leader was the only game in town.

At over 160 customers, I had the largest afternoon route

Virginia. After paying for the papers, I brought home a hefty (for a 13 year old) $40-50 a month. I'd love to say I saved all that money for college, or even my first car. But the reality is it all went for candy and pepsis and huge dill pickles out of a countertop pickle jar during the delivery, and for endless comic books, and all too soon for cigarettes. Ah, youth.

Yes, AHHHH, Youth.   The enterprising, get-up-early, hit the doorstep every time youth.   And so are titans born. 


DearHelenHartman said...

Paper routes and pickles. There's a blast from the past. I bet kids now would be shocked at the idea of fishing a pickle out of a jar and handing it over in a paper cone.

Beverly said...

This made me smile. Everybody needs a tasty pickle from one of the jars at the country store.

Kim Shook said...

Yep, that man can WRITE! Between him, JessieBear, Miss Maggie and YOU, my dear, it's a wonder that I have the nerve to put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking, of course).