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Old 03-04-11, 05:54 PM   #1
AlmostTrick
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Did you deliver newspapers by bicycle as a kid?

I did, and loved it. My first route was in the early 70's and netted me around $14 a week... many times more than my meager allowance. I was suddenly rich!

Mom had a 26 x 1 3/8 inch wheel "lightweight" Sears bike (single speed, coaster brake) with full size Wald baskets in back that I liked to use. Sometimes I used my Stingray instead, but then I needed to carry the papers in a bag. Mom's bike made the route easier and the larger wheels seemed faster. A few times while sitting on the kickstand the bike was blown over by the wind and papers blew all over the place! I had to collect payment from my customers and often got tips, especially at the holidays.

How about you?
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Old 03-04-11, 06:23 PM   #2
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I started when I was 10 years old with just some cheap beater bike. My first route had maybe 35 papers to deliver. I started delivering the Phoenix Gazette. When I was 12 I got a route for the Arizona Republic. By then I had a Schwinn Paperboy Special, a Stingray and a French 10 speed. Can't remember the name. I got up at 4:30 every morning and delivered from 100-120 papers. I loved the holiday tips. I took pride in buying my own Christmas presents for my family.

I got a crazy idea to braid a bunch of aluminum wires that the came bundled in and tossing it on top of a bunch of power lines beside our "Paper Station." There was a mighty flash and the power went off for blocks around. Every one in that part of town was late for work as the alarm clocks all were 30-40 minutes late. No one tell my mom, OK, she still thinks Ralphie Burke did it.
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Old 03-04-11, 06:56 PM   #3
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100+ papers on a Schwinn Heavy Duty 3 speed SA bike about 1954 or so. Got up at 4:30 to fold them on the corner with 3 other paper boys. Had some pretty steep hills. Every now and then I would roof a paper, and I "invented" two long poles hinged with a rope to operate the outward lever - like an old-fashioned crane and a sort of scoop on the end to retrieve the paper from the roof. Today, I would have been shot by someone.

Every now and then I would encounter someone coming home after a very late evening out - greeted by a paper boy!!

Sundays were the worst. I used a paper bag over a rear rack, as I recall. SOmetimes I would walk the route with the bag (hole in it for the head) over my shoulders. On wet days, we had to wrap wax paper around the paper. We used a REAL fold - the type that ends up looking a bit like a slanted house, all tucked in and nice. Papers were smaller then.

Got some tips, also - maybe a dime or a quarter was typical. The paper was maybe $2.00 per month.

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Old 03-04-11, 06:58 PM   #4
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I had a paper route. I delivered the Boston Herald-American, now known simply as the Boston Herald. In the late 60s and early 70s, they had merged with the old Record American, hence the name. Didn't make much money at it, but I cherished what I did earn. Had some great customers, and a few real Turkeys. I rode around on my old hi-riser-banana seat bike, and yeah, sometimes the weather did not cooperate.

They don't have paper boys around here anymore. Heck, very few people read newspapers at this point.

Heh, remember those ads in the back of "Boys Life" magazine, the ones that wanted you to sell a newspaper called "GRIT"? The ads always depicted
a smiling young male, wearing a GRIT newspaper bag, and grinning wildly as he held out a handful of cash. Wonder how many fell for that one?
The only thing I ever heard about the newspaper was that it was popular in the rural midwest.

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Old 03-04-11, 07:00 PM   #5
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Of course, used a reconditioned CCM coaster brake equiped clunker to deliver about 60 papers every morning six days a week (Sat. off") starting at 0500 rain or shine. Only got driven around the route once when my tire blew just as I was pushing it out the bas't door with no replacement on the claim.
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Old 03-04-11, 07:02 PM   #6
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1956. Had 28 customers. Made Honor carrier the first 6 weeks. Won a trophy, shoulder bag and a Chicken dinner with my dad. He died the following year.

Had one woman that came to the door with her boobs out each time I collected.
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Old 03-04-11, 07:05 PM   #7
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Sure did! Had 100 papers along Rt 31 in Aurora. From the old St Joes Hospital, to where Indian Trail is today. Man, was that a LONG route.

Started in the mid 50s, and carried for 6-8 years.

The Aurora BeConfused.....(The Aurora Beacon News)

paid me a dollar a day, spent about 8 hours collecting every week......... WOW!

On an old LaSalle with no padding on the steel seat, and no fenders......

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Old 03-04-11, 07:14 PM   #8
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I held a paper route for about 4 months when I was 13. It rained every...single...day. No, that's not true, one day it snowed. Then I quit the paper route and started delivering milk instead. The weather was no better but milk bottles, unlike newspapers, are waterproof.

The day I hated most of all was Friday, because in addition to the daily paper, everyone subscribed to the local weekly. I never did weigh the bag but I recall I had to complete about 1/3 of the route before I could balance on my bike again.
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Old 03-04-11, 07:26 PM   #9
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Yep, although I never did have a for real 'paper-boy bike' with the huge front basket and smaller front tire. My folks got me a beautiful used Roadmaster in green and ivory around 1958 (but the bike was probably a '49 or '50) so I could carry papers better. I've never seen another one like it. It had a twin-coil spring front end, but not 'knee-action'. The fork blades were solid forged steel with a spring perch on the front edge near the top, with another spring perch on the fork crown on each side. The blades were hinged with a 1/2" pin on each side and had stops to keep the fork blades from going back past the safe point. The fork crown was a massive piece, and the springs were large in the middle and small on each end - chromed, of course. Other than that, a typical American 'heavyweight 26" bicycle' with fenders, a 'tank', a heavy rear carrier and a 1" pitch chain. It wasn't long before it was stripped down, painted black, had a Bendix 'Automatic' two-speed rear and a 1/2" pitch front sprocket. The front wheel was 26x1.5 (middleweight) while I managed to find a big knobby for the rear (26x2.25). It also had a generator set from Western Auto that was actually very bright but burned out the tail light when changing from hi beam to low and vice-versa. Now I know I should have just left it one way or the other. The 'drag race' was king back then, and nobody on the planet could beat me in half a block with that Bendix low gear and speed shift to regular. The Bendix also had a tremendous coaster brake in it. I remember very well telling the guys it was like a power brake on a bicycle. Basically it was because the hub shell had a larger diameter than the regular brakes, and the Bendix engineers made full use of the greater 'swept area' by utilizing three large brake shoes driven by a wedge when you back-pedalled past the shifting point - so, every time you braked it would change to the other gear. Not really as much of a nuisance as it sounds.
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Old 03-04-11, 07:37 PM   #10
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Oh boy, here's some memories. I had a "suburban" route in Albany, NY delivering the Times Union. Had about 40 customers. Did it for 2 or 3 yrs in the late 50's.

I think my first bike was a 26" Schwinn something. After about a year in the route I bought a Monkey-Wards branded bike that has AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION! It was a 2 speed, and while it has coaster brakes, if you back pedaled just a bit it would shift gears. Worked pretty good, but it had a design flaw. Something in the design required that the rear axle had one point that was thinner than the rest. It broke. I got it replace under warranty, but he 2nd one eventually failed too, and the warranty had expired. :^(

About that time I was 15 or 16 and my interest in bikes changed to cars and girls. I kinda wish it has stayed with bikes....
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Old 03-04-11, 07:43 PM   #11
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Yeah. What great memories. I had my first route in 61 and walked and then rode my brothers single speed....later sold for bullets due to the heavy metal content. I didn't earn much but i saved to buy my first bike..... a simpsons(sears) red bike with sturmey archer 3 speed shifter. Wow....was that a great bike and a great time. It seemed rather simple but I had that bike for 7 or eight years until it was stolen. Gotta say I do miss those times.
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Old 03-04-11, 08:19 PM   #12
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I delivered the Hollywood Sun-Tattler on and off for about three years. it was a six day a week (no Sunday) afternoon paper, so I could deliver my route after school. Avg. routes (I had several over the years) were about 75 papers. I could make $10-15 a week, and $20-30 around Christmas. This was in the early to mid 70's. The first day I delivered was miserable, i used my banana seat bike with a saddle bag. I could never configure it properly, and it kept rubbing the rear wheel and getting stuck. It took me HOURS to deliver. II was about 12 years old and broke down crying in frustration. I didn't get home until about 8:00 at night (I probably should have been home by 4-4:30).

I wound up getting a larger 26" bike (probably a no name) and got the huge newspaper basket for it. I delivered in 8th grade, 10th and 11th grade, and then I got a job as a dishwasher at Sambo's. I quit Sambo's about midnight on a Friday night in the middle of a graveyard shift, and then got a job at one of the first Taco Bells to open in South Florida.
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Old 03-04-11, 09:33 PM   #13
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I started when I was 10 years old with just some cheap beater bike. My first route had maybe 35 papers to deliver. I started delivering the Phoenix Gazette. When I was 12 I got a route for the Arizona Republic. By then I had a Schwinn Paperboy Special, a Stingray and a French 10 speed. Can't remember the name. I got up at 4:30 every morning and delivered from 100-120 papers. I loved the holiday tips. I took pride in buying my own Christmas presents for my family.

It's a small world! I delivered the Arizona Republic from about 1958 to 1960 using a middleweight (1.5" tires ?) Schwinn Paperboy Special with a two speed Bendix coaster hub (high tech for the day). The low gear was handy with a hundred + papers in the bags. I remember an Easter Sunday paper that was over 400 pages.
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Old 03-04-11, 10:23 PM   #14
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Anyone else save a copy of a big headline from their paper boy days? The largest headline I delivered was the August 8th 1974 edition of the Daily Courier News with Nixon to quit just about filling the entire cover. I still have it!
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Old 03-04-11, 11:12 PM   #15
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Nope, my route had too many customers to carry the papers on a bike. They were aslo large papers, Detroit News. Started when I was 11 and was making $35 a week during the mid-fifties. I went through several routes and the last one was right around the paper station; no need for tranportation. When I was 16 I took over the "Station Captain" job which was an additional $35 a week. That was $70 a week in 1959 dollars. That job bought me my first car.It was good experience, useful for the rest of my working life.
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Old 03-04-11, 11:27 PM   #16
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I had a route delivering the local afternoon daily in '70. I got $0.51/house per month plus tips. The price was conveniently $2.75 which encouraged people to tip me a quarter. In '71 I got a morning S.F. Chronicle route. That was when I began to appreciate good humor; they had Art Hoppe on their editorial page. A friend's house was on my route. He would get up early and open his second-floor window so I could throw the paper through.

My older sister usually did half of the morning route. One morning she came home quite a bit after me and was extremely upset (screaming and crying). I remember my dad telling her to quit talking about the dog and tell him what had happened. He thought she had been attacked. It turns out the dog had been hit by a car. He survived with minor injuries. However, this was such an upsetting event that my parents asked us to quit the route, which we did.
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Old 03-05-11, 12:07 AM   #17
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I walked my 5 mi route. I never threw papers. I always placed the paper where the customer wanted it. Using a bicycle wasn't practical for that. I also had some short cuts that could not be negotiated on a bicycle.
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Old 03-05-11, 01:59 AM   #18
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I applied, but by the time they had an opening, I had lost interest and turned them down.
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Old 03-05-11, 03:26 AM   #19
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Delivered the Berkeley Daily Gazette when I was in 6th grade or so. Had a black Huffy with balloon tires and a big steel rack on the back, over which I would place the canvas "pannier" newspaper bags. You could also wear these bags like a poncho; there was a hole in the middle for your neck. Had about 60 papers that I delivered six days a week. We'd sit on the corner, the district manager would arrive in his beat-up Ford station wagon. We'd pull our bundles out of the back, cut the wire holding them with our little round wire cutters (looked like spoke wrenches), then count the papers. Most days the papers were thin enough we'd fold then in a "tomahawk fold" that made the papers easier to throw. Got quite good at hitting porches from a moving bike, but every now and then I'd roof the paper, so I'd get a complaint sheet the next day. Hey, just look up on the roof, dude!

The hardest part of the job was collecting each month from all the Berkeley deadbeats. Some subscribers required several visits before you'd catch them at home. But then you took the bag of cash to the American Trust Company downtown, and a gorgeous older woman teller would quickly count out the coins, holding a stack of quarters in her hand and manually rolling it into a sheet of paper. That just blew me away how skillful these tellers used to be!

Luis
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Old 03-05-11, 05:27 AM   #20
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Yes I did and I can't believe that today it's delivery by car. And people wonder why this nation has the highest rate of obesity. Go figure.
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Old 03-05-11, 05:49 AM   #21
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Yes, I delivered a morning paper and then an afternoon paper. I used a single speed with a wire basket up front until I could afford to buy a pair of wire baskets for the rear of the bike. I hated the part of the job where I had to collect payment every week from the customers. Later, as a kid when my family was struggling (which it seems we always were) my father got a second part-time job filling up the newspaper vending machines at 5 a.m. So, it was four of us (both of my brothers had paper routes too) getting up every morning (we also delivered the Sunday paper) to try and earn enough money to may the rent, keep coal in the furnace, shoes on our feet and food in our belly. At that time in my life, the bicycle was simply a tool and I wasn't eager to ride it at all.
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Old 03-05-11, 07:32 AM   #22
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Yes, the Toronto Telegram. It went out of business after I quit (not my fault).
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Old 03-05-11, 07:36 AM   #23
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Yes, the Toronto Telegram. It went out of business after I quit (not my fault).
So you claim
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Old 03-05-11, 07:52 AM   #24
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I had two afternoon routes: The Chicago Daily News and the Southtown Economist. The Economist was a coveted route. You only delivered twice a week but you collected fees every month. Collecting was a PITA but you got good tips. The News didn't involve collecting so tips were rare except at Christmas when we dropped off our Christmas cards (tip solicitations). The really serious guys had Tribune routes - you had to get up at 4:00 AM for that. IIRC, I folded the Economist rather than use rubber bands since it was thin and rolled and banded the News. I rode a balloon tire Schwinn with the paper bag on teh handle bars and tossed the papers onto door steps classic movie stile. These were city routes but to single family houses - no paper tossing in apartment complexes.

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Old 03-05-11, 10:48 AM   #25
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Not as a kid. I did fill in for my step daughter when she went on her senior class trip. It was hilarious to see me riding her bike, a sack of papers on the front and me holding a list of addresses in one hand. I think, I fell four or five times the first day, but got pretty good by the end of the week.
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