were a constant temptation to stop and read. However the ire of the customers and consequent lateness at school cured me any dalliance. However I clearly remember some of the headlines that occurred on my beat as a paperboy: the Berlin Wall, Cuba, space flights, civil wars in Africa and Marilyn Monroe’s death are still etched in my memory.
Writing about my beach cleaning days encouraged me to cast my mind back even further to my first paid job. When I was in Grade 5 a notice appeared in the window of “Skinners” the corner store in our town asking for a “paperboy”. The weekly wage was 15 shillings – $1.50 in decimal currency.
At the time this seemed like a huge amount of money for a 10 year old but looking back it hardly kept my bike going. Yet every morning I got up at 5.45 am went to the store to sort out the papers for the different clients and then cycled (and pushed my bike) around the hilly part of town, which was my allocated patch, delivering newspapers – The Sun, The Geelong Advertiser, The Age (which was an horrendous monster on Wednesdays and Saturdays), The Sporting Globe and for the racier clients, The Truth (a misnomer), which was an education in itself for a young paperboy!
I wasn’t given a list but had to remember all the addresses and which paper was wanted when and where. I made a few mistakes in the first week or so which irritated both shop keeper and reader. In the end I got the hang of it.
Then I encountered the seasons! Most of the year was OK but winter was dark and cold. Fingers froze on the frosty mornings but gloves made it difficult to handle the newspapers. So my dad taught me a trick he had used in Holland. He showed me how to make cones made out of newspaper and place them over the handles on the handlebar so I could slide my hands in while cycling. Even my dad, who wasn’t tolerant of “softies”, made an exception on a few really bad cold wet mornings and actually drove me around to deliver the papers.
This time was also an education in names and how to pronounce them. When “Marny” wanted an extra paper how was I to know it was written “Mahoney”. And then there were the migrants from all over Europe whose names were not just unpronounceable but also unspellable. How do the Poles get away with putting so many consonants in a row without losing their false teeth?
The worst thing about being a paperboy was that I wanted to read everything. The papers
I delivered papers for a few years but then two other jobs came up: working on a farm and in a bakery. But they are tales for another day.