I have a confession to make. I was a Paperboy for almost 10 years. I still have nightmares about it sometimes.
It was a fascinating way to both earn money and to meet and spend time with friends. It also gave you some amazing insights to people’s lives in the 1970’s.
Back then, there were two daily papers and I delivered them both. I’ll be honest, it was a real bitch to get up at 5:00 am for the morning run- especially in my late teens when I was frequently hung over…
But it gave me the two things I most desired: Money and Freedom.
My paper route paid for my first car and assorted clothes and housewares.
It also thoroughly pissed off my control freak father.
His control lever was always: “I won’t pay for that”. My response was always “I have a private income”, which I got from seeing too many movies.
In short, I had cash, so he had no control. In fact, once, due to my Mother’s proliferate spending, he once had to borrow money from me….
It was lovely.
In case you have not figured this out by now, it also fulfilled my major desire in life: It got me out of the house.
I would schlep through the snow, sleet and freezing rain to deliver the morning paper as long as I could spend several hours socializing while delivering the evening paper. And visiting with my friends.
My friends may have teased me about this at times, but it saved my life. Besides, I only worked a couple of hours a day and made as much money as they did as bag boys and at restaurants.
Early on, I could spend a couple of hours both delivering papers and talking to my friend Renee. I was out of my house and talking with someone who understood me and who I understood. I’m not sure she ever knew how much that time meant to me. I hope she does now.
Later, I would spend time with my friend Gail- or her Mother. Even when Gail wasn’t speaking to her. It could take me hours to deliver papers as I was so busy socializing…We would sometimes talk to Terri. Mary. Stuart. Whoever came along…We lived in the streets of Temple Terrace.
We talked face to face. I know that is strange to kids now for two reasons:
- They consider their parents their friends and can’t imagine wanting to be away from them
- They don’t understand we didn’t have the internet and video games.
We had to talk face to face. As scary as that might seem now…we learned to give and take. We interacted in person. We talked through all the adolescent crap and got through it together. As we grew older, we talked about how ridiculous our parents were and how we never wanted to become them.
We gossiped, we chatted, we plotted and we survived adolescence together by finding commonalities no matter how different we were.
We are all young and in Temple Terrace in Danville, Virginia with screwed up parents, but we were together and aware of the strangeness and newness of life.
We had hope and we had plans.
Mostly to get out of Temple Terrace.
It was also fun for me to see the adults.
Looking back, with the wisdom of my years, I can see drama I missed then.
People who wouldn’t come to the door to pay their paper bills when I called. People I woke up at 4:00 in the afternoon. The “bachelor” who lived alone and played classical piano at night while drinking as soon as he got home. The man who was so differential to his wife that we were all shocked at the murder/suicide a few years later. The sons who finished college but never quite left home. The men who came to the door in their boxers when their wives weren’t home…
I learned a lot. And a lot of it went over my head at the time.
But I interacted with people and I survived. Fortunately– or unfortunately– with my innocence more or less intact.
It makes me wonder, why are people so scared now?
Is it because of Cable TV needing to fill a 24 hour news cycle and magnifying every crime? Has it made everyone paranoid? Is it the Internet?
In any case, I strongly recommend your turn off the computer and the TV and throw your kids into the street. Without their cell phones.
Let’s see if they survive.
They may surprise both you and themselves….