A Family Alliance

Share a bed, share the bathroom. Share clothes, chores, coughs, chicken pox. Families were designed for sharing. Even more so when large families managed paper routes.

Mark began with younger Mike helping. After Mike ran the route he passed it to Matt who could pass… Awhh, why not? Mary’s responsible and soon she’ll assign it to Paul with Peter in line.

By age six had you joined brothers to hawk on a corner or deliver a route? Did you share a bike, a canvas newspaper bag? Do you know a family who produced six, seven, nine paperboys?

For morning routes, especially the large Sunday edition, dad woke his sleepy son stating, “Your father delivered papers at age nine. You can too.” Dad sounded stern. Mother was sensible, often a saint.

She shortened the strap of the canvas bag to prevent it from dragging , or made one for her boy. She answered the phone to customer complaints, washed clothes smeared with newspaper ink. And parents lost their copy when the son was short a paper. No sports pages or grocery ads that night. The children shared income buying school clothes, shoes and paying school tuition. Gordon dropped all his profit in the family’s pickle jar bank. Ed handed his money to mom. Siblings competed, scuffled, tormented but cooperated to keep the family afloat.

Off to boy scout camp. Sis can sub. For Tom’s hunting trip with dad, Mother delivered the early morning route. When Leonard suffered an emergency appendectomy, for days mother and sister handled his papers.

Their family structure and financial support didn’t mirror the idealized model of TV’s Ozzie Nelson family or a school’s Dick and Jane Reader. Just not the way real families existed.


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