Friday, July 8, 2011

Yup, I Was In The Newspaper Business....

Image result for portsmouth herald  The first real job I ever had was as a newspaper carrier in Kittery, Maine, for the Portsmouth Herald.  It was about 1960 which would put me at eleven years old.  It was a regular routine;  my papers were dropped off at the IGA where I would unbundle them and load up my bag.  While I was was waiting for the papers, I would often make purchases in the store for Popsicles, Nik-L-Nips, root beer barrels, comic books or whatever my small budget would allow. 
  On the average, I recollect about thirty customers.  Typically the papers were about twenty pages thick.  So, generally, a little, skinny kid like me could handle the newspapers in a canvas shoulder bag that was almost as big as me.  However, sometimes, the papers had an unusually high number of pages, making for a thick, heavy, newspaper.  That was hard work.
Image result for ice storm  There were two occasions when I remember the newspaper route being particularly grueling.  One Saturday morning, there was an ice storm and EVERYTHING was coated in a layer of ice, particularly the streets.  It wasn't possible to stand upright very easily, never mind trying to walk.  I remember spending much of my time on all fours making deliveries.  The other heart-breaking story follows:
  As a newspaper carrier, we were always encouraged to get new customers.  To that end, we were allowed to give out free samples, which would double the amount of papers I would have to deliver.  Well, one particular day that I chose to take on samples, was the same day that the Portsmouth Herald put out the biggest paper I had ever seen.  The pile of papers waiting for me was staggering.  I turned right around, went home and returned with a wagon to haul them around in.  Maybe I should have organised a newspaper carrier union!
Image result for pierce block portsmouth nh  Every Saturday, I had to pay for my papers.  This was the part of the job I liked, because I would get on the bus in Kittery, pay my ten cents and ride to the 'big city' of downtown Portsmouth.  There I would bring my sack of coins (they must have loved that) and pay up.  After that, I could hang out until the next bus back home.  I always went into Green's Drug Store, right by the bus stop, to indulge in a five-cent Coca-Cola.  They had an old fashioned marble soda fountain counter to sit at.  My Coke would be dispensed from the old style dispenser into a glass and then gently swizzled with a spoon.  I guess that was to insure the syrup was blended.  Little did I know that I would be coming back to Green's fifteen years later to service their ancient NCR cash register! Today, the Green's location is a Starbucks.
  Occasionally, the Portsmouth Herald would take all the carriers to places like a fun park where we spent the day on rides, etc.  They seemed to take pretty good care of their carriers and I had fun and learned to understand how to deal with customers, handle money, etc.
   I think I was a carrier for a year or two and then the route was taken over by my younger step-brothers.  So, no, I never became Editor-In-Chief for the Portsmouth Herald.

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