A Lost Art

Yesterday morning, the newspaper was tossed into the driveway by the nice old delivery man out of his late model car.

For a change, there was no plastic bag. Holding the paper together was a rubber band. The plastic is used in the Southwest corner to keep the paper dry from morning dew and ocean mist mostly. Sometimes it is used to keep out the rain and double bagged. But it’s been dry a couple of days. i guess they decided to save some plastic — a rare nod to conservation — this morning.

It reminded me of a long time ago in a land far away. For a brief time, about six months as i recall, i was a paperboy back home. Some boys made some pretty good money plying that trade through high school. As with nearly all things, other things, usually sports or girls distracted me, and i moved on from any real money making deal.

But for six months, i would rise early, probably around 4:30 and ride my bike east across the square and up East Main to a shack, literally, on the east side with no glass in the windows and a bunch of tables in the one or two rooms. The truck from Nashville would arrive, dump its load of The Tennessean’s off and return to Nashville for its afternoon run with The Banner.

The paperboys would get the allotted shares of the paper for their routes, stand at the tables and fold the newspapers into triangles, tucking one side into the fold to hold it together . We would put the papers in a canvas bag and most of us would put the bag in our bicycle baskets hanging in front of the handlebars.

A couple of the newsboys had mopeds or the equivalent. i think they had larger routes but no longer recall for sure. Regardless, they always finished early. For the non-motorized variety, and we were the large majority, we would pedal away to our routes.

My route was North Tarver, perhaps Braden and North Tarver, including West Main and Hill Street in between. i would pedal as fast as i could on my Schwinn, reach into the bag in the basket, grab a triangle by the corner and spin it in the air with the goal of making it to the porch, the front steps, or the sidewalk immediately below the steps. That was a success to me, and i would pedal on. More frequently than i care to admit, my twirling deliverable would land in bushes or yard. i would stop, retrieve it and put it in its proper place.

There were some old coots who demanded their papers were in front of the door on the porch. This required stopping and hurrying up to the porch, depositing the news in front of the door before continuing the route. This and the missed targets were time consuming and frustrating.

Now i’m an old coot, but i’ll never ask the paper man to get out of his car and put the newspaper at my door.

Yep, Nice old man. Late model car, not a moped or a bike. His route is probably gigantic, not two or three blocks. And it’s probably his job to supplement his social security so he can get by. And he not only gets tips at Christmas time; he asks for them with an envelope enclosed.

It made me a little lonely to think paperboys are no longer around, at least not here in the Southwest corner. So i decided to play paperboy, if only just for a moment.

i did this with bridge watches once quite a while ago. It was in the middle of the night when i was going through a divorce. i wanted to get away, go to sea. So i got up and grabbed two bricks and tied them to a cord (someone else told a joke about this and i thought it might make my effort feel more real). i made some coffee. i moved a bit of furniture so i could stand right at the front window. Then i put a cup of coffee on the window ledge, put the bricks around my neck as if they were a set of binoculars, called the sheep dog. Then old Snooker sat and i stood at the window for about fifteen minutes gazing out into the dark as if we were looking for contacts. i really did this.

It didn’t work, of course, but it did make me tired enough to get some sleep. i have never tried it again.

But yesterday morning, i wanted to be a paperboy again. i took the paper into the breakfast room. i removed the rubber band. Then, i tried to fold it into that triangle. Couldn’t do it. i tried every angle. Just couldn’t remember. Being this day and age, i did a google search. All i got was some kind of origami instructions.

This morning, the old man delivered the newspaper in the usual plastic bag. i didn’t try to figure out the triangle fold this morning. But i will. Yes, i will.

Some folks think i’m crazy.

The old paper man probably thinks so, too.

i think they are half-right.

1 thought on “A Lost Art

  1. My husband who grew up in Green Bay WI had nightmares as an adult of dogs chasing him as he delivered the Sunday paper from his bike.

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