Stop Delivery

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The announcement this week that the afternoon Fort Wayne News Sentinel was going completely digital hit me like the rolled-up newspaper I never threw.  You see, I had a paper route in Angola in the late 1960s.  When seventh grade classes were done for the day,  I’d stop outside the news stand/book store, fold about forty papers in half, and tuck them in my bike basket. Then I carefully crossed the highway to the other part of town.

My route took me past the old brick post office with CCC murals on the inside, maneuvering around sidewalk corners and familiar yards.  It was a neighborhood we’d lived in earlier, and I was glad to revisit some of the streets I used to walk to school.  I even delivered a paper to our old house which my sixth grade teacher had bought.

But I didn’t throw it.  Putting down the kickstand at each house on my subscriber list, I walked up to it and placed each paper inside the door or on the top step.  I wouldn’t have been able to trust my aim from a distance, anyway.

My legs had to pump hard uphill on the block beyond the elementary school. The area wasn’t developed then, but there were a few new ranch style homes at the top.  I knew the families who lived in them; it was strange to be a service worker who came up to the door, especially when I collected money for the week.  I felt like someone else.   Forty cents earned them a little date-stamped ticket which I deperforated as I was handed my quarter, dime and nickel.

I liked coasting down that hill afterward because I could see the layout of the city blocks below, a patchwork of Cape Cod and frame houses with grass of varying heights.

One two-story house was a bit different than the rest.  I only saw its resident once or twice, as she clothespinned an envelope of forty pennies to the mailbox for me on Fridays.  Beside the door was a handprinted sign, Ironing.  She was a tiny lady with upswept hair, little glasses and an ancient housedress.  I wondered if she even got forty cents for her work.  Probably not.

If it were a hot day, on my way back I’d stop at the news stand for a Yoo Hoo chocolate drink, feeling important that I could decide how to spend my own money.

There is still a morning Fort Wayne newspaper, whose editorial page is the opposing political side of the one I used to deliver. We subscribe to it. It comes by car delivery while it is still dark. I do hope there are enough people to sustain it, who still enjoy the crackle of large pages with their coffee and who budget more time to digest the news than is allowed by electronic media. The daily afternoon paper boy or girl in small towns is becoming a thing of the past.  Though I may not have thought so at the time, I am glad to have had the experience.






7 Replies to “Stop Delivery”

  1. Nice piece. I have fond memories of the newspaper boys (we never had a girl) delivering our paper. I remember the little cardboard receipts as well. Where we live now, we used to have a wonderful man who delivered our paper who became a good friend.

    You might enjoy the book Paperboy by Vince Vawter. It’s a fictionalized version of what happened when he subbed for a friend’s route while he was away at camp. He grew up in Evansville and ended up winning a Newbery Honor for the book. I met him and his wife, and they were both delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed hearing your memories. I can still smell the different houses where I stopped by and was invited into the front room. The older people loved to talk and were always smiling. I’m sure I would love reading Paperboy. I will check it out – thanks, librarian friend Susie!


  2. I just loved this post! Felt like I was being brought to another time and place — loved your description of the various houses, your view, the collecting of money — just all of it! I, too, felt sad to learn the NS was stopping publication. There’s just something nice about the feel of the paper. Each Sunday it’s a treat for me to take it in to the sofa, sit down, and go through the various sections. Reading news online is very different.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a paper route too! One memory is learning that above the stores in downtown Huntington there we’re some prettbfancy apartments! And can totally relate to coasting! Fun read, Margaret!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so enjoy reading your writings. Although, I did not respond to the relish recipe, it brought back so many childhood memories. You are so very talented! Carol

    Liked by 1 person

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