Work, of Sorts

Bundles too large? By 40-50 pounds, stacks of papers definitely became too much for a 75 pound kid so carriers constructed a cart, or used the ubiquitous Radio Flyer red wagon to manage the task. Was delivering papers work? The job certainly required discipline.

Before school, after school, Sundays, summertime, school holidays children with a paper route stuck to a schedule. Early morning editions or the more prevalent afternoon papers created a symbiotic relationship with youth and the extensive newspaper industry. Regardless of a fire, a flood, any calamity, the newspaper company still rolled papers off the press. An assembly line through every season, the daily always appeared.

Did you work as an adolescent? Earn your own money in place of a generous allowance? What regular jobs did you pursue in grade school, in middle school?

In the recent past, working as a child was NOT an exception. Children wanted work. Though inexperienced, awkward, accident-prone, the kids made mistakes, learned, matured, and made money. Their most common source for steady earnings: a paper route.

They profited. However, not salaried, an independent paperboy must collect from customers who might or might not pay. The antics of adults avoiding collection taught him more about human behavior than the Sunday sermon. His simple routine turned complex as he coaxed customers skipping their commitment to pay pennies for their subscription.

Because a route interfered with playing school sports, and belonging to a team helped with retention of carriers, newspaper managers organized baseball, basketball, bowling teams. Identified as a paperboy, his identification expanded on a sports team.

Regardless of sports, showing up every day, the kids established a terrific team. The camaraderie of carriers produced a club scene rather than a job site.


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2 Responses to Work, of Sorts

  1. Ed Boblitt says:

    Hey, Thanks for remembering this “old” paper carrier. Appreciate the stories. Keep up the good work. ERB

  2. Tom Lewis says:

    I love the subject of this book, I have had this experience and know how it has influenced my life.
    As we relive our life experience we tend to forget just how each experience has led us to who we
    are today. Along with being a carrier I sacked groceries, mowed lawns, picked strawberries, apples,
    blackberries, worked construction projects, sold papers and programs at U of W games, collected
    and sold beer and soft drink bottles, etc.
    My life has been busy and centered around both a strong desire to make money but also a desire
    to balance a education to help with this goal. I would say reading, sports, boy scouts,strong mentors, and the strong desire to do the best i can, would be my other foundations of my life.

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