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  1. #1
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Strange and Interesting Sights 50+'rs Saw on the Paper Routes

    OK - here goes (I am remembering 60 years ago).

    I was folding on the corner, when I saw a guy throwing rocks at a window, acting, to me at 14, rather strangely. I called the cops. It turned out he was mute and deaf and was trying to get the attention of the residents who lived upstairs of the business.

    I used to deliver quite early - like 3am - and would meet folks coming in from nights out/dates and hand them their morning paper.

    I used a tremendously heavy Schwinn paper boys bike to service my 125 customers. And I had some pretty steep hills.

    A 10 cent tip was a big deal, a 25 cent was a hooray!!

    That's all for now, but I lived in a quiet neighborhood. Others must have more exciting tales!!

    Please share them.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 12-02-13 at 09:24 PM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  2. #2
    Senior Member yodatic's Avatar
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    DSCN0008.jpgThis one time, at band camp, I saw this ! tom
    2 Peter 2:16. "But was rebuked for his inequity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet"

  3. #3
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    I've kind of avoided this thread. I had a paper route for three years in the hilliest part of town. I hated it. But my father said if I didn't like the kind of clothes he bought me, I'd have to buy my own. I started buying my own clothes at age twelve. I ran a shorter route in the morning, typically starting around 6 am and done by 7:30. At the time, there was also an afternoon edition of the paper. I delivered this after school almost always getting home after 6 pm.

    Perhaps the most difficult part of the ordeal was "collecting" every week. We had to knock on doors to get payment each week from our customers. It was during this activity that I saw the most interesting things. I saw my first display of affection between two lesbians. They were locked in a deep embrace kissing, which I could see through the front window as I approached the door. Mrs. John answered and said, "I guess you saw that." I nodded. She went on to explain that she was married before, but it wasn't who she really was. Her partner, Mrs. Fisher was also married before. All I remember beyond that was that they were both happy people and paid me on time, with a $.50 tip each week.

    Mrs. Miller almost always answered her door in the summer months in a bikini, which was highly provocative attire for the time. She was one of my favorite stops. Another favorite stop was the local Moose Club. I had to go to the bar to collect, and the bartender would slide a shot glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer toward me and say, “Now don’t tell anyone and you’ll get another next week.” I kept my mouth shut.

    I saw a man kicking his dog once because she wouldn't stop barking. It truly angered me, and I started tossing his paper just a bit farther away from the front door than usual. Another time I saw one of my customers being arrested. I don't know what the charges were, but I never saw him again, and I was notified that his delivery was cancelled.

    I was riding a single speed red Ross bicycle with wire saddle baskets on the rear. I could carry around 60 Sunday papers in them. So, during the 3 years I did this, I often had to go back to the pickup spot to get a second load of papers to complete the route. All things considered, I expect it was a good learning experience for me. It is, however, where I grew a considerable dislike for winter. Trying to deal with the darkness and cold are still challenges for me. Oh, one other interesting thing I saw one winter was a man going to his car in his bare feet with about 6 inches of snow on the ground. The entire time he was doing it, it was shouting, “God, that's cold, cold, cold!” I was glad I had my black buckle-up goulashes on.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I used to deliver papers to a local hotel/bar with a big parking lot. One morning a Hippy Dippy van pulled in, parked at the back of the lot followed by a car. On returning back that way the van was rocking, this went on for a couple of days. Then one day the local police were standing at the door of the van, van never seen again. Quite shocking for an innocent thirteen year old.

  5. #5
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    I too, had a paper route for a couple of years as a young teen. The day before my first day I fell and needed 4 stitches in my left shin. Couldn't use my bike (a 3 speed) so I borrowed my sisters "girls bike" that was a single speed. Great bike for delivering papers due to easy on and off. It was a morning paper (Toronto Globe and Mail) but that didn't bother me (well, at least during spring, summer and fall) but I also hated collecting NOS88. Some people were great - paid without complaint, always pleasant, etc. But a couple of houses were never home, never had enough cash, a paper got wet 6 months before, etc. Loved Christmas time though - seemed a tradition in our area to give a nice sized tip that time of year. Also, being a morning paper I had to deliver Christmas morning. Oddly, I always liked that. Seemed to have new snow every year and it felt like I was the only person in the world. Odd that I look back on that fondly. But we did get Boxing Day off because the paper didn't work Christmas day. When I turned 16 was able to get a "real job" (as a lifeguard if that is "real") and dropped the route.

  6. #6
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    I never saw anything disturbing, but one morning I heard a bunch of mating cats caterwallling and it scared the crap out of me. It was a terrifying, demonic sound.

  7. #7
    Senior Member JerrySTL's Avatar
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    I delivered a free local paper which was mostly advertisements. It was an afternoon delivery and I didn't have to collect money so I got off easy.

    We were suppose to attached the paper to the front door handle with rubber bands. At this one house the front door had windows about 5 feet high. I was amazed that this little tiny dog would jump up high enough to bark at me through the windows. The doggy would appear about every 10 seconds. I don't know if the dog was leaping up from the floor or using something like a chair near the doorway to get up that high.
    Last edited by JerrySTL; 12-19-13 at 01:59 PM. Reason: feet not inches.

  8. #8
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    I rode my single speed, idk what kind of bike it was, pretty much year round. Unless the snow got real deep. My route only had about 40 customers.
    Strangest thing I remember is a girl in my class had a mean cocker spaniel that attacked me everyday. I feared and hated that dog but I had to act macho because of Diane.
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

  9. #9
    Northern Rider nondes's Avatar
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    In UK I had to deliver about eight different morning newspapers, plus magazines. I used to tell the papers apart by the location of the photos on the folds. Always a dreaded moment at the end of the route when the last delivery was a Daily Sketch and all I had left was a Mirror! We had to put the papers through letterboxes - no throwing them onto the lawn. At one address I always heard a dog racing to hurl itself against the door as I approached so I would pop the paper through the door just as it left the ground - I imagined the dog catching it in mid-air. That route paid for my first bike.

    Later when I was a student I sold the two London evening papers to vacationers transferring from a ferry onto the train to London. They weren't interested in buying while they were bothered with luggage and kids so I used to hop on the train - people would buy a paper when they were sat down. I had to have my watch perfectly adjusted and would jump off just as it was about to leave - a few close calls when people didn't have the right change!

  10. #10
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    Brand new on the route making my way through it and all of a sudden a beagle like dog tries to grab a paper out of my hand,so we tussled back and forth before the owner came out and laughed and told me the dog was trained to fetch the paper.I think it kinda wrecked it for the dog he never seem really into it after that.He did his thing i did mine.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I started delivering the Detroit News when I was 11 years old. I had my route and also ended up running the paper station with 16 carriers. I was responsible for figuring the billing for the carriers, doing the paper work on starts and stops, meeting the delivery truck, unloading the papers, and opening and closing the station every day. Between my route and my Station Captain duties I made about $75 a week. That was pretty good wages for a 16 year old in the 1950's. Heck, I'd get $150- $200 in Christmas tips from my customers every year. I was too young to work overtime, so my boss would give me tickets to the Detroit Tigers or Red wing games as a "bonus" for extra time spent at the station.

    My younger brother was also a carrier, and would have me open the station early for him Sunday mornings on our way to church. He would start the fire and sleep on one of the benches instead of going to 6:00 mass like we was supposed to. It did not do much for his soul, but the station was warm when I got back from church

    I really enjoyed my route, and I attribute many of the successes I have had in my career to my early exposure to the work world as a kid. My Manager asked me if I would like to work for the News when I graduated. Luckily, I had other plans. I liked most of my customers, especially the beautiful blond girl that was a grade ahead of me in school. We ended up dating for a short while when we were in high school. Tell me there are no benefits to delivering papers! I worked hard to make sure they got their paper on time and in good shape. However, I did manage to break a few windows with a bad throw for the porch door.

    The most graphic thing I saw as a young carrier was when the delivery truck ran over one of the carriers when he fell from a short wall beneath the dual wheels of the truck. I though he was dead, but it did not turn out that way. The dual wheels ran right over his mid section. The guy lived, but walked with a slight limp. He competed in the state diving championships when he was a senior!
    Last edited by Doug64; 12-18-13 at 11:29 PM.

  12. #12
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    14 when I had the paper route. Did it on my bike. Collection day was on a Friday.

    One lady always answered the door with no top on.

    Guessing she may have been about 45 y/o.

    Yep, they were biggies.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  13. #13
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    The most exciting thing that ever happened on my paper routes happened while I was in the shower after I finished up one morning. I was splitting my route with my older sister who needed some cash. She took our dog and did half the route while I did the other half. On that fateful morning, she came into the house bawling up a storm. I remember my dad frantically trying to understand what had happened to her. He kept saying, "Forget about the dog, what happened to you." Well, my sister was just fine, but a car had hit our dog right next to her. The dog turned out to be just fine, but from then on I had to stay with her while she finished her half of the route.

    I hated collecting for the morning route I had. One day, I realized that if I just put a self-addressed envelope into the paper with a bill and asked people to mail me what they owed me, I could cut the collection time down to a small fraction of what it had been. Although my tips suffered slightly, it was worth it to not have to go find people at home in the evening.

  14. #14
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Too many to count from my time throwing papers until I left for Parris Island. All kinds out at 0400, doing things the strange way for the most part. Probably the most disturbing was the Saturday morning I was collecting the payments for the week when I ring the door bell and sing out my usual "Paper Boy", the well endowed lady of the house comes to the door completely naked, I stepped back when she asked me if I wanted to come in while she got the correct change, I begged off and left without my money for that week. I go to the next house, across the street, and the lady of that establishment is standing in the doorway laughing (fully clothed, thankfully,) she asked me why I backed away from the strange naked lady's house just now. I blushed, stammered something about not needing trouble, as it followed me everywhere anyway. I wasn't allowed to let this one go for quite a while, apparently this was a standard trick by the naked lady, why she chose me after I had been throwing the papers there for 1-1/2 years I'll never know. I sent my helper to collect that house from then on and never on a Saturday morning.

    It was pretty good money as I had a large route and managed it carefully and trying to give good service (no wet papers, holding the papers when customers were out of town, etc. Tips were very good for the early 70's and Christmas time was fantastic. When my father died suddenly one block took up a collection and presented me an envelope of cash for my mom. Great folks and it was a nice neighborhood back then, my wife and I grew up there and we lived on the route until we moved out later on.

    I did manage to get my wife off of the route, best "collection" I ever got and the tip from her parents wasn't bad either.

    Bill
    Last edited by qcpmsame; 12-19-13 at 05:28 AM.
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  15. #15
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    From '64 to '66, I delivered the Saturday Toronto Telegram in our small (population) but large (area) village. I covered about 3 miles total on this route, and did it entirely on foot.
    The guy I took the route over from came from a very self sufficient German family. His father was the local blacksmith. Living in a largely Mennonite community, there was lots of horse shoeing to be done. He also got lots of business from the local race track, both shoeing horses and building sulkies.
    On Saturdays when I'd deliver the paper to the house, he would be busy making wine or beer, his wife busy in the kitchen baking bread for the week.
    There were always delightful smells coming from the house.
    Tragically, this couple was killed along with two of their grand children when he apparently had a heart attack behind the wheel, running a stop sign and run over by a dump truck.
    A very sad time for our small community.
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  16. #16
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    Nothing as racy as some of these stories. My route was about 72 papers. Each one would have to be folded and put into the mail box. The only one that I would deliver to the door was an elderly lady about half way through the route. On windy rainy days...and there were many in Wellington, NZ she would have a cup of hot chocolate ready for me. I've had plenty of paper routes, but she was the only blind person I ever delivered a daily paper to.

  17. #17
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    The only thing that really stands out from my paper route in Berkeley, CA back in the 60's happened each month after doing the monthly collection, I'd put all the cash into a cloth bank bag and ride over to the bank, I think it was the American Trust Company before they partnered with Wells Fargo. To my young eyes, the tellers were all beautiful, and they all had thin fingers with polished fingernails. The most remarkable thing was that each of them could quickly count out each type of coin, place them in the palm of one hand in such a way that they were all lined up straight, and quickly wrap them into a paper roll. All very quickly and efficiently. Certainly a lost art.

    Luis

  18. #18
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    In the late 1940s delivered the Detroit Times.
    One Saturday collection day, one lady took a bit longer to answer the door.
    She was out of breath and said "I was in the shower" and answered the door with a see-thru raincoat on!
    Appreciated the nude view and when she realized what she had done she just stammered ". . . OH!" and closed the door after paying me.

  19. #19
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    I delivered the old Boston Herald-American. (Now the boston herald, a tabloid ragsheet. Mildly amusing though)
    My route was much smaller, but I made some extra cash on Saturday mornings, but getting the Sunday papers assembled
    at the office for delivery the next day. Most of the Sunday papers were printed and sent to the dealers well before Sunday.
    The money for that work was actually pretty good for young males in the early 70s. And.. The boss bought lunch. Burger king,
    but when you are fifteen and doing a manual labor job, do you really care?
    "The People will believe what the Media tells them they believe". George Orwell.

  20. #20
    Senior Member CroMo Mike's Avatar
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    My brother and I shared a paper route for a while. Collecting was always crazy. Even then I couldn't understand why some people didn't have a mere $0.35 in their pocket to pay for the week. They knew we would be collecting. The wives would say "can you come back when my husband is home?" Some would put us off and get 3 or 4 weeks behind. Some weeks we could barely make the $14 paper bill.

    One day we went collecting at a older guy's house, and he was working on his lawn mower which would not start. Before we knew it, he was unbolting the Briggs and Stratton engine from the mower and we were on our way with it in that big basket that normally carried papers. My brother fixed it and brought it back in a couple of days, ready to start with one pull.

  21. #21
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    My paper route was a good source of lawns to mow and get extra money for my motocross and bicycle habit. Throw the mower in the car's trunk and after I threw my papers I would mow a yard or two and them get home for supper. The customers would schedule with me during weekly collections to get the mowing done, worked good for all of us.

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  22. #22
    Outback Cayucan
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    Our family moved to a subdivision created on a former small farm. 1958 in jr. high I started serving the local paper. The subdivision was only a couple of dozen homes and I ventured further afield on nearby country roads. Eventually my route was eight miles and I delivered two PM papers one of which had a Sun. AM edition. Fri. PM collecting was an ordeal. But I handled it. Among my customers were a few farmers. Every farm was posted "No Hunting." I had permission to hunt several excellent places. One especially where I was hired me to help mow the lawn. Mrs. M. served me strawberry shortcake and taught me to drive the Model A flatbed truck. I rode a Schwinn Phantom, emerald green and chrome. It was a tank: slung paper sacks around the seat and luggage carrier on each side of the rear and a large basket on the handlebars. Broke the crank twice. Used to take it across a corn field and a creek on the way home after harvest if it wasn't muddy. I kept at it through high school. Two of my brothers would help me at times. One had a Schwinn similar to mine. When my coaster brake went bad. I pulled it apart to fix it, but couldn't remember how to reassemble it. He was really apprehensive about letting me take his apart so I could figure it out.

  23. #23
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
    I've kind of avoided this thread. I had a paper route for three years in the hilliest part of town. I hated it. But my father said if I didn't like the kind of clothes he bought me, I'd have to buy my own. I started buying my own clothes at age twelve. I ran a shorter route in the morning, typically starting around 6 am and done by 7:30. At the time, there was also an afternoon edition of the paper. I delivered this after school almost always getting home after 6 pm.

    Perhaps the most difficult part of the ordeal was "collecting" every week. We had to knock on doors to get payment each week from our customers. It was during this activity that I saw the most interesting things. I saw my first display of affection between two lesbians. They were locked in a deep embrace kissing, which I could see through the front window as I approached the door. Mrs. John answered and said, "I guess you saw that." I nodded. She went on to explain that she was married before, but it wasn't who she really was. Her partner, Mrs. Fisher was also married before. All I remember beyond that was that they were both happy people and paid me on time, with a $.50 tip each week.

    Mrs. Miller almost always answered her door in the summer months in a bikini, which was highly provocative attire for the time. She was one of my favorite stops. Another favorite stop was the local Moose Club. I had to go to the bar to collect, and the bartender would slide a shot glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer toward me and say, “Now don’t tell anyone and you’ll get another next week.” I kept my mouth shut.

    I saw a man kicking his dog once because she wouldn't stop barking. It truly angered me, and I started tossing his paper just a bit farther away from the front door than usual. Another time I saw one of my customers being arrested. I don't know what the charges were, but I never saw him again, and I was notified that his delivery was cancelled.

    I was riding a single speed red Ross bicycle with wire saddle baskets on the rear. I could carry around 60 Sunday papers in them. So, during the 3 years I did this, I often had to go back to the pickup spot to get a second load of papers to complete the route. All things considered, I expect it was a good learning experience for me. It is, however, where I grew a considerable dislike for winter. Trying to deal with the darkness and cold are still challenges for me. Oh, one other interesting thing I saw one winter was a man going to his car in his bare feet with about 6 inches of snow on the ground. The entire time he was doing it, it was shouting, “God, that's cold, cold, cold!” I was glad I had my black buckle-up goulashes on.
    Good book material ... and no, I'm not kidding!

    I have to agree about the collections. But instead of getting bikinis, lesbians or some PBR, we got people pretending they weren't home. What kind of a person would stiff a little kid?

    Paper routes were great experience (some good, some bad) for any budding entrepreneur and any student of humankind. I think it a loss that that in our hood nowadays, adults have taken over the job.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    The only thing that really sticks out for me is the morning I encountered my first Great Dane. I was 11 or 12 at the time, and I'd never seen a dog that was about as tall as me. He pretty much scared me half to death.

    There was the time a friend of mine and I piled a bunch of papers on my Radio Flyer, climbed on and tried riding it down a steep hill. We didn't make it to the bottom in one piece.

  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    When I was ten, I worked as a helper for a boy who had the route. His family went to New York for Christmas and they never returned. I turned 11 in January and they gave me the route (age limitation was 11). I rode a Schwinn Wasp (the guy left when he went to New York). 80 to 95 customers a day. Monthly collections. one strange thing I can remember is early one Sunday morning, I was delivering to an apartment. The door was wide open and in the living room, on the table, was a large stack of money. There must have been close to a thousand. I put the paper inside and shut the door. He asked me about shutting the door at the end of the month collections. He never explained what happened but I got a twenty dollar tip that month and he paid the $2.35 bill with a fiver from then on. I had that morning route for about a year. I also had a evening route after that for about another year. That route had one lady who kept playing with herself while she was talking to me (during collections). One time, she told me that I should just come into her house and leave the paper on the kitchen table; I never did.

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