|August 2, 2009
Eastwood's advice in "Dirty Harry" that opinions,
like certain body parts, are best kept to yourself.
was a paperboy in the 1950's, and 35¢ paid for a week
of delivery, including Saturday and Sunday. I collected
every week, making about 7¢ on each customer, and every
Wednesday night, summer or winter, I had to go around to all
of the houses and ring the door bell. I can still say "
Collect 35¢ " in my sleep, as I stood in those
doorways waiting while they came up with the money.
the winter, my glasses would fog over, and I'd have them
off, holding them in my mouth by the earpiece, as I tore out
the little coupon from my collecting book, their proof that
they'd paid. Some customers wouldn't answer the door -- they
didn't have the 35¢.
Thinking about the
winter, in Minnesota your bicycle spent that part of the
year hanging in the garage, and the route had to be covered
by foot. This was before they invented warm
boots, or at least I didn't know about them, and my
non-insulated black rubber galloshes over my shoes were all
that separated my feet from the deep Minnesota snow. More
than once, I remember coming home with feet that seemed like
blocks of ice, so cold I cried.
I had to settle my
bill at the newspaper every Saturday morning, and of the $14
or so that I'd collect, I'd pay about $11 for the papers,
leaving me with a $3 profit for maybe 10 hours work each
week. That was big money, and most of it went into my
savings account. I was still getting my 25¢ a week
allowance from my dad, on the condition that I'd save most
of what I made with the paper route. Back then, I could go
to the movies on Sunday for a dime, popcorn was a nickel,
life was good.
I remember once, I had a tough time
finding everyone home to collect, they all picked that week
to be gone, and when I counted my weekly collection, I
didn't have enough to pay for my papers. That was the first
time in my life I went into a cold sweat over money,
something that would be repeated on numerous occasions in
the years to come, raising nine children who all went to
college. A $3 withdrawal from savings solved the problem,
but it was a week's pay, and a major deal for an 11 year old
They don't have paperboys anymore, and that's
too bad, it was a great experience for a young boy to learn
about running a business. Oh sure, an adult drives by my
house every morning about 3 AM putting the paper in
mailboxes, but somehow that doesn't count.
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