The raison d’etre

Though the paperboy provided convenient door-step service with timely delivery of the day’s news, his concern was not reading the newspaper—except for the comics and the sports pages. His raison d’etre for a paper route: the money. With purchasing money, a newspaper carrier’s world expanded.

His reason for starting to carry papers may have risen from dad’s response to the request for a bicycle: “Get a route and earn the money.” Dick Kalivoda’s father gave Dick that advice and he followed his dad’s directive, which was an oft repeated message in family homes. Before long Dick bought his bike, and five years of delivering the Seattle Times, 1950-’55, led to more purchases, in particular new cars.

Did you buy your bicycle at the town’s hardware store with a payment each week, or acquire a used bike from an older brother or a friend’s model he outgrew? Maybe you ordered a new bicycle through the Montgomery Ward catalog, one with balloon tires. The Bicycle Museum of America very likely has a model of your working bike.

Rudy McDaniels's 1951 Buick, bought for $15 in 1967

The paper route turned to fun pedaling down the street, no hands, porching papers, swerving around cars. However, a best reward: the first car. In 1953 delivering 115 Seattle Times papers on route #1662, Ron Haringa at 13 purchased his first car, a 1930 Chevy roadster for $8.50. The auto had to be towed home. It didn’t run. With tools he bought from Sears Roebuck, he disassembled the parts. In a year he owned a ’36 Chevy, which he drove and maintained.

Like Ron, another Times carrier saved for his first car. Ray Poletti began his three year route in 1961. At age 14 from his first job he purchased a 1936 Plymouth for $35. The black sedan didn’t run, but it provided a classroom for tinkering and learning.

Was your first car a helpful run-about, a series of repair lessons, a remembered treasure? Ohh, to still own that early model today. Did you preserve your first bicycle, your first automobile?


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One Response to The raison d’etre

  1. Ed Boblitt says:

    Sandra, I paid $35.00 for my first car at age fifteen which was a 1936 Chrysler. My dad drove it to work, and I sold it before I was old enough to drive and bought a 1947 Studebaker with suicide doors. I delivered papers out of the trunk and gave up my unicycle for a quicker means of transportation. Great memories. Thanks for what you’re doing. ERB

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