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Was Anyone Else a Paperboy?

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Was Anyone Else a Paperboy?

Old 03-30-06, 11:03 AM
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HopedaleHills
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Was Anyone Else a Paperboy?

I don't know why but on my morning hill climb this morning I was thinking about when I was a kid delivering papers on my bike. I remembered the old 24" bike I built from parts found at the town dump and how we used to hang the paperbag over the rear rack and then catch the strap on the axle end on the opposite side (neither me or my friends could afford baskets). It stayed there just due to the weight, but your ride was lopsided. I did this everyday after school for about two years. I think I had about 60 customers and a route that probably covered about 4 miles. I remember it had one killer hill and I used to use the old weave back and forth method to get up it.

Geez, the things you think about when grinding the hills.

So, anyone else?
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Old 03-30-06, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by HopedaleHills
I remember it had one killer hill and I used to use the old weave back and forth method to get up it.

So, anyone else?
Yeah, I used to use the same zig zag to get up a series of hills. My route was a morning and afternoon route. I used my older brother's bike until I saved enough to buy my own. The thing I remember most was how difficult it was to steer with all the weight on the bike... front basket and rear baskets full. I had 80 morning customers and onver 100 evening customers. Winters were miserable.

OK, with that dose of nostalgia, I won't complain anymore this week about any hills I have to climb!

Thanks for the flashback to a time I had forgotten.
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Old 03-30-06, 11:23 AM
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I was a Newspaper Delivery Engineer for the now defunct afternoon Cleveland Press. I had two routes, with about 50 customers on each. I can still remember the smell of the newspapers when they were still warm and just off the delivery truck!

I still remember the blue canvas bag that carried the papers over my rear rack, the guy who had the German shephard in his garage and insisted on having the paper delivered to his milk shute, the guy who always left the week's money in HIS milk shute with a 50 cent tip AND a Milky Way candy bar, and how hard it was to do the route in the winter. People would swerve to go INTO puddles to splash me, and drive off, laughing.

I had another customer with 5 bulldogs which scared the *** out of me. I also remember going around to collect with a ring of cards, and a hole punch, and hoping enough customers were home to make enough to pay the week's obligation.

I also remember a kid on the next street over who'd made a go-kart from a lawn mower and had his own paper route as well, and how envious I was of him.

And last, I remember what it was like to do my collections just before Christmas and have so many customers give me a whole dollar tip that I would come close to $50 in tips which was an astonishing sum for me in those days. (Come to think of it, it still is!)

I think being a Newspaper Delivery Manager (I promoted myself) was something that helped form my character, such as it is, and I wish they still let youngsters do it. Times have changed, and something was lost.

Oh yeah -- and I remember rain. Lots, and lots, and lots of rain. The delivery bag had a flap that kept the papers dry, sort of. But I never really enjoyed delivering in the rain!
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Old 03-30-06, 11:34 AM
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I used to deliver a daily paper....

Originally Posted by HopedaleHills
I don't know why but on my morning hill climb this morning I was thinking about when I was a kid delivering papers on my bike. I remembered the old 24" bike I built from parts found at the town dump and how we used to hang the paperbag over the rear rack and then catch the strap on the axle end on the opposite side (neither me or my friends could afford baskets). It stayed there just due to the weight, but your ride was lopsided. I did this everyday after school for about two years. I think I had about 60 customers and a route that probably covered about 4 miles. I remember it had one killer hill and I used to use the old weave back and forth method to get up it.

Geez, the things you think about when grinding the hills.

So, anyone else?
on a rural Iowa route by auto......but when I was younger I worked as a Linotype operator for a couple of newspapers, one was the Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA and the other was the Albuquerque Journal-Tribune, in Albuquerque, NM....that was some of the best years of my life.
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Old 03-30-06, 11:58 AM
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125 papers, some real STEEP San Diego hills (on the golf course side of 30th and Juniper). Sundays were the worst. I zigged and zagged also. I hated having to fold the wax paper sheets around the newspapers when it was raining. I roofed a few, and designed a huge cantilevered 2" x 2" 10 foot long "grabber" that with a sweeping action could knock the paper off of the roof.

I think back to what someone coming by at 4:30 am might think when they saw this young guy standing on a porch with this wooden hinged device sweeping the roof!

Sometimes I said "Hi!" to customers who were coming back from a late night out as I was delivering the early morning papers. There were 3 of us who always folded our papers together on the same street corner.

Yes, something has been lost!

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Old 03-30-06, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by HopedaleHills
I remember it had one killer hill and I used to use the old weave back and forth method to get up it.
I still weave back and forth to get up some hills, even with a 27-speed bike.
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Old 03-30-06, 01:22 PM
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Early mornings were my downfall as I had a 20 mile trip to school each day and left home too early to do a paper round. However, I got into the school holiday coverage, and although It was quite a large village, it was fairly compact so all the rounds were relatively short except for one. This took in the old village and had lots of LONG drives and large frontage to the houses. Papers in the UK are delivered to the door so this was one round I hated. The lad that did it had rich parents and they always seemed to be on holiday, so 2 weeks at Easter, a month in the summer and 2 weeks at christmas and I was doing a 15 mile paper round for the same money as those doing the mile long Local Housing estate. Only advantage was when you got to the Local "Lord of the manor", an old established family on a 15 acre estate with the Mansion set in the middle- up a 1 mile drive- uphill. Always got there as the Lord was going to his office and he would stop the car- take the one paper he wanted and get me to deliver the others to the Mansion. He would always give me a tip, and told me to go to the kitchen and have a glass of something for my troubles. That glass was normally freshly sqeezed orange juice, or on a hot day- home made ginger beer. By the way- They may have been monied families- but christmas tips were not great. Better pickings were had from the ordinary families.
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Old 03-30-06, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by HopedaleHills

So, anyone else?
Yep, delivered the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. Even sold enough new subscriptions to the Sunday Edition and for magazines to earn a train trip with other Phila. paperboys to WASH. D.C to see JFK inaugurated in Jan 1961. My biggest problem was trolley tracks. I once dumped a load of papers in my front basket when I got stuck in tracks like these.
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Old 03-30-06, 03:21 PM
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From the time I was 11 until I was 16, 365 days a year. I'll never forget riding on glare ice and finding myself upside down with the bike on top of me and papers all over the street. Happened about 10 times one day.
I'll also always remember the newspaper, Tulsa World, chartering a train to take all of its carriers to Kansas City to watch the Yankees play the Athletics, saw Micky Mantle knock on out of the park left handed.

Al
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Old 03-30-06, 04:23 PM
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I delivered the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and my hometown paper, the Wakefield Daily Item. About half the time I used my bike, a 26" wheeled Raleigh 3-speed, with the papers lashed to one of those old Pletscher rear racks using the built in clamp and some bungie cords. I bought my first good bike (a Mercier) with the proceeds from that paper route. Was it Thanksgiving day that always had the biggest paper of the year? My route included a nursing home that smelled horrible and never did earn me much in tips.
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Old 03-30-06, 08:27 PM
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Wow, very nostalgic. I delivered the Berkeley (CA) Daily Gazette for a couple years, can't believe I did that. I rode a balloon-tire Huffy with a heavy duty steel rack in back on which I hung the canvas bag. The bag had a big pocket on each side and a hole in the middle, so if you walked the route you could put your head thru the hole and carry the bags that way.

The bundle of sixty papers would be dumped on the street corner, and they gave us a round piece of steel, looked like those four-way spoke wrenches, but you used the small notches to cut the wire holding the bundle. The Gazette was usually thin enough that you could fold the papers in a "tomahawk fold," (nothing to do with the Atlanta Braves, hey they were still in Milwaukee in those days). Sixty folded papers went into the canvas bags, then the fun began. I'd ride down to the first street on the route, reach back and pull a paper out of the quiver, zip onto the sidewalk, then hurl that sucker across the lawn and onto the porch. Wham! Right against the screen door, boy would that piss them off if they were home. A low shot, skidding over the concrete walkway, maybe some damage to the newsprint. A high shot,ending up on the roof. Oh well, maybe they'll climb up and get it. Or I'd hear about it at monthly collection time. End of route, and I've got an extra paper I can bring home. Did I miss a house? Or maybe I'd be short and I'd have to call the DA (district advisor) when I got home to have him deliver that last house.

Yeah, pretty sad that today the paper is delivered by car by some older person. But I think the paper route really honed my bike skills. Throwing a paper off the bike is not unlike doing a handsling in a madison. I never thought about that...

- Luis
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Old 03-30-06, 09:06 PM
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Yup! I had a paper route. The paper I delivered was one of those free, local papers. You know, the kind that has one page of news and about nine pages of adds and coupons. It was a real rag. I can't remember the name of the paper, but I remember not everyone was real glad to receive it. Once in a while someone would chase after me and throw the paper back while I was trying to deliver the paper to their neighbor on the other side of the street. Strange!
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Old 03-30-06, 09:25 PM
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Wow - makes one think back. I had a paper route way out in the country in Southern Michigan. I only had 28 weekday subscribers and 31 on Sunday. My route was 18 miles and I rode it on my Schwinn 3-speed for about 14 months. Long enough to earn enough for my first quality stereo system - a Kenwood combo unit with receiver and a nice Dual turntable on top. I was 15 and my dad would drive me when it snowed or was pouring rain. Had 2 long hills that I dreaded. I still remember how hard it was every week to get people to pay the weekly paper subscription charge. I had kept that bike until 5 years ago - wish I still had it . Seems a shame that kids today will never have that way to earn money, get excersize, learn the value of integrity, honesty, work responsibility.
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Old 03-30-06, 09:32 PM
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I delivered papers for about eight years. The paper route supported my other interest of minbikes and motorcycles.

When I used my stingray bicycle for the afternoon paper, the bag was supported by two 1 by's bolted across the handlebars. The winters were a killer on the dead end roads that hardly ever had the snow plowed and also drifted badly.

When I got older, I delivered three morning routes before going to school on a ten speed. The Chicago Sun Times was a killer on Sunday mornings as the weigh of the bag hung from my shoulder.

The most remeberable thing was that I could ride full speed to any intersection and turn the bike onto the sidewalk if a car was coming. Where did those quick reflexes go.
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Old 03-30-06, 09:39 PM
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In the mid 1960s, I helped one of my high school pals deliver newspapers in Huntington Beach CA. His chrome-dipped 1961 Schwinn Continental was actually a pretty decent paper mule, so I guess those electroforged gas pipe frames and double-walled steel rims are good for something.
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Old 03-31-06, 12:59 AM
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I didn't have my own route but helped a buddy who had a long rural route. This was back in the early '50s, lots of farm houses, rolling hills and wide open spaces. No "roof shots" or "porch skippers" for us...all deliveries were made to rural paper boxes located near the customers long country driveways.

Of course our bikes were the old heavy cruiser types that everyone had. For some reason I remember the 26 inch fat US Royal tires with the "figure eight" tread pattern that many of those bikes seemed to use. My bike was made up mostly of old junk parts with a Whizzer motorbike front wheel that I was extremely proud of.

We had one customer who lived at the end of a long dead end road who was a mean old hermit type that we would sometimes torment. Occasionally we would fold his paper extra tight into a small package and push it tightly, far into the box. Then for the finishing touch to our handywork we would cram ice and snow into the box until it was full. This mess, of course, would usually freeze solid after about an hour.

Don't know how he managed to get these "special deliveries" out of the box, but the word BLOWTORCH comes to mind. I don't recall that the poor old guy ever complained or reported us to the newspaper.

People weren't so quick to react in those days.

Good thing.
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Old 03-31-06, 08:16 AM
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Sure did! My route was fairly small, I think about 42 papers. It was an afternoon paper, the [I]Waukesha Freeman[I]. We also had to collect $.50 from each subscriber every Friday, I got to keep $.10. I used my sister's bike because it was so easy to step through as I'd get on and off, usually tossing it to the ground. We didn't throw the papers, we had to deposit them in various special places on porches, etc.
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Old 03-31-06, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Hammer Boy
We also had to collect $.50 from each subscriber every Friday, I got to keep $.10.
We also had to collect from our customers for various magazine subscriptions and a $1000 life insurance policy that the Phila Evening Bulletin sold through its paperboys. I still remember the people who would stall on making 50 payments and make me come back several times before paying up.

BTW does anyone think there is a reasonably priced bicycle sold on the US market today that is suitable for 12-16 year old paperboys to deliver daily newspapers AND be good for all the other things a bicycle did for pre drivers license/non-chauffeured teens of the past?
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Old 03-31-06, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
We also had to collect from our customers for various magazine subscriptions and a $1000 life insurance policy that the Phila Evening Bulletin sold through its paperboys. I still remember the people who would stall on making 50 payments and make me come back several times before paying up.

BTW does anyone think there is a reasonably priced bicycle sold on the US market today that is suitable for 12-16 year old paperboys to deliver daily newspapers AND be good for all the other things a bicycle did for pre drivers license/non-chauffeured teens of the past?
I think that any entry level mtn bike would be great. I think you should be able to get by for $300 or a bit less. Whether or not that is "reasonably priced" is up for debate. A good used one should run about $100.

I hated the folks who couldn't come up with the $1.25 per month charge. If I got a dime tip a month I felt I was really making money!
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Old 03-31-06, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by HopedaleHills
I don't know why but on my morning hill climb this morning I was thinking about when I was a kid delivering papers on my bike. I remembered the old 24" bike I built from parts found at the town dump and how we used to hang the paperbag over the rear rack and then catch the strap on the axle end on the opposite side (neither me or my friends could afford baskets). It stayed there just due to the weight, but your ride was lopsided. I did this everyday after school for about two years. I think I had about 60 customers and a route that probably covered about 4 miles. I remember it had one killer hill and I used to use the old weave back and forth method to get up it.
Geez, the things you think about when grinding the hills.
So, anyone else?
Yep! I delivered rags for the (then, mid 60's) Daily Colonist here in Victoria BC. I had a fairly large route which actually combined two routes. I bought myself one of those big heavy delivery bikes. You know the ones that hava a small wheel in front, larger wheel in rear, and a large heavy tube framed carrier over the front wheel? Took me a little bit to get used to it because the carrier didn't turn with the steering. It also had a metal panel that took up the open space between the top, down and seat tubes. The paper I delivered for actually paid to have their name painted on that panel. "I must have been special."
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Old 03-31-06, 11:02 AM
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I had a afternoon Paper route for about 7 years. Still remember riding my columbia 3 speed w/ 2 baskets in the back. Didn't look cool but got the job done. I rode all year and like one post above ended up on the ground in the middle of teh street because of ice. The paper company had a picknick at the local amusment park once a year, we would be able to get on the rides early before the park opened. I made enough to pay for my first car.
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Old 03-31-06, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Gremlin52
I had a afternoon Paper route for about 7 years. Still remember riding my columbia 3 speed w/ 2 baskets in the back. Didn't look cool but got the job done. I rode all year and like one post above ended up on the ground in the middle of teh street because of ice. The paper company had a picknick at the local amusment park once a year, we would be able to get on the rides early before the park opened. I made enough to pay for my first car.
Ditto re afternoon route--except for the big paper on [some cold] Sunday mornings--and, I did my collections on a '63 Schwinn Sierra triple. I think paperboys became a thing of the past when the job was opened up to girls: the newspaper companies feared liabiliity for ****.

Of course, it was a different time back then. And, I was such a sucker: I always stuffed all of the crappy inserts instead of throwing them in the canyon.

My biggest recollection was wrapping big Sunday papers in wax paper (i.e., on rainy days before plastic bags) and heaving those brown bullets toward a door from the street at 5:00 in the morning.

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Old 03-31-06, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
Yep, delivered the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. Even sold enough new subscriptions to the Sunday Edition and for magazines to earn a train trip with other Phila. paperboys to WASH. D.C to see JFK inaugurated in Jan 1961. My biggest problem was trolley tracks. I once dumped a load of papers in my front basket when I got stuck in tracks like these.
I remember the 23--Germantown to South Philly. I think it's still running. When did PTC have that paint scheme? Or is that the "Philly Cream Cheese" style that looks more like powder blue and white on my screen?

I used to deliver the Courier-Post in Camden County, New Jersey. Thirty five years later, I was seated at dinner aboard a train in Arizona where I met one of my old customers.
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Old 03-31-06, 11:56 AM
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HOW do you guys remember the brands of your bikes you were riding way back when? All I remember is mine was RED. And I wouldn't swear to that one, even.
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Old 03-31-06, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Digital Gee
HOW do you guys remember the brands of your bikes you were riding way back when? All I remember is mine was RED. And I wouldn't swear to that one, even.
Thinking back, I'm sure I could have put racks on it instead of just used it for collections:

Last edited by wagathon; 05-08-08 at 09:45 PM.
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