Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Paper Routes - not for kids anymore Previous Next
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Jams
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Username: Jams

Post Number: 3238
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.212.125.242
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 4:23 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

After reading the responses from the lawn cutting thread, I thought I'd throw this one out as well.

When I was 11 or 12, I tried my damndest to get a News or Free Press route, either I was too young or nothing was available. Finally, I got a job delivering a weekly, the Southwest Journal. I must have knocked on every door in the neighborhood for blocks around trying to sell more papers. I remember one couple finally relenting after my 5th or 6th time asking if they would take a subscription. They lived in an Upper with the entrance in the back, no matter to me. If I could find them, I'd try to sell them.

One of my fond memories of those days was the bus trip all the way out to Allen Park Gilead Baptist to pick up a youth group for a combined roller skating outing with our group of deliverers to a rink somewhere Downriver. Those suburban chicks were hot.

Any other reminiscences of having a paper route in your youth?

How did a kid having a paper route become as archaic as the buggy whip?
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Czar
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Username: Czar

Post Number: 3049
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 129.137.169.142
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 4:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'll add that service was better when they let kids deliver papers. I had a Free Press route and people went ballistic if you didn't deliver it the right way (place it in the screen door, place it in the mailbox). The adults who deliver papers these days drive by in their cars and toss the papers on your freaking lawn.

When I moved to Chicago in 1989, I couldn't get the Chicago Tribune delivered to my apartment, despite the fact I lived five doors down from Wrigley Field. Currently, I called the NY Times to ask if the person who delivers our paper (who I've never seen) could get our paper to the porch at least. "Customer service" told me they can't guarantee where the paper will show up on our premises. Give it back to the kids.
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Livedog2
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Username: Livedog2

Post Number: 190
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 24.223.133.177
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 4:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Czar, here's the reason you can't get your "paper to the porch at least."

paperboy

Livedog2
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Czar
Member
Username: Czar

Post Number: 3050
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 129.137.169.142
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 4:47 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Naw, I'd see him in the dark if he had the lightbulb.
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Mcp001
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Username: Mcp001

Post Number: 2161
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.14.135.95
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 4:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It'll never happen, Czar.

The company shifted from paper carriers to "independent contractors" beginning back in the late 80's early 90's.

Part of it had to do with adults being more beneficial as carriers, and part of it had to do with how newspapers were delivered.

Instead of individual sub-stations located through the Detroit Area serving a particular neighborhood, these were condensed into "super-stations" & distribution centers which served a large portion of a city, if not several cities (depending on their location).

OABTW, These are not situated anywhere where it would be practical for kids to "ride" to the nearest sub-station to pick up their papers for delivery to their customers.
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Ray1936
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Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 532
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 207.200.116.139
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 4:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The kids lost the routes when the muggers started robbing them of their collections. At least that's how it was in Detroit. In the sixties it became epidemic. Then the afternoon papers became a buggy whip themselves, and that finished it.

That said, my Detroit Times route was a great life experience for me. Learned a lot about discipline and perseverance in those days that I never forgot. I also learned that a Wards Hawthorne bicycle didn't pedal for crap in a six-inch snow.......... :-)
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Sknutson
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Username: Sknutson

Post Number: 564
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 67.114.23.202
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 4:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My brother an I delivered a nasty weekly shopping paper in Grand Rapids. I think it was called the Weekly Shopper. I remember getting cheap ink all over me as I delivered it.

I get the San Fran Chronicle and the NYT delivered to my driveway. The Chron is always in the middle of the driveway, but at least half the time the NYT ends up beneath the car.
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 2397
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 128.36.14.81
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:09 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I lusted after a FP route. could never get one tho. FP routes were the best, you had a bigger route, more $ and you had your afternoons free (of course you had to get up in the god awful early mornings and froze your ass off 2/3rsds of the year but it was still worth it. News routes were shorter more chaotic and killed your afternoons. My friend had a FP route (virtually identical to the route described by Expat on another thread but probably 15 years later) that was a cash cow. I did News routes occasionally (subbing) but, for me, it wasn't worth the effort.
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Czar
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Username: Czar

Post Number: 3051
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 129.137.169.142
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:11 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The other good thing about the Free Press routes was they brought the papers to your door to deliver. As MCP described above, if you had a News route, you had to go pick up your papers at the distribution center, killing more time.
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 2398
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 128.36.14.81
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Now my WSJ gets tossed randomly anywhere from halfway down my driveway on one side of my house to the neighbors bushes on the other side. They DO do a good job of hermetically sealing it from the elements tho ... how'd you like to have to double bag every paper on your route every rainy day back in the olden tymes ...
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 2399
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 128.36.14.81
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:15 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

FP had distribution centers my part of Detroit neighborhood AIR. Maybe it changed over time ...
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Czar
Member
Username: Czar

Post Number: 3052
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 129.137.169.142
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think it was a mixed system when I had my route, around '79-'83
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Wabashrr1
Member
Username: Wabashrr1

Post Number: 96
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 205.188.116.137
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:19 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

" I also learned that a Wards Hawthorne bicycle didn't pedal for crap in a six-inch snow.........."

Nope, You needed the schwinn paper boy's bike. Of course with a morning free press route, also had to have the generator and light. Don't forget the rack over the rear fender to lay the bag over. Had the dog trained to either run along side or ride on top of the rear rack (his choice). That little gimmick got more tips than anything else on collection day.
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Mcp001
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Username: Mcp001

Post Number: 2164
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.14.135.95
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:20 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

No, they started around the late 80's.
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 2400
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 128.36.14.81
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:20 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

IME FP paperboys WERE more highly stressed tho, they would obsess about their route. I was recently describing to my friend (the one with the FP route) how I attended a wedding where the groom's family were dairy framers and the specific pathology of dairy farmers personality re milking the cows and he instantly got it and said "Just like my (FP) route".
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Spacemonkey
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Username: Spacemonkey

Post Number: 20
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 63.102.87.27
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 5:25 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I had a Free Pres route from age 11 to 17. I got up every morning at 4:30 am to peddle papers with my brother before school. I loved that job. My Christmas tips alone my first year came to $101 dollars. That was a lot for an 11 year old. I bought myself an Atari video game system.
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Marcnbyr
Member
Username: Marcnbyr

Post Number: 653
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.43.13.13
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 6:31 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Czar,

I had the same problem with my NYT carrier...there was one time I found it on the grass between the sidewalk and the street. Nowhere near the porch...and of course after I reported a missing paper for the day. The final straw came when I picked it up one rainy morning out of the yard, got inside the house, pulled it out of the bag...and the entire paper was soaked through. No exageration...the entire Thursday edition (which is one of the thicker editions) was soaked through. I had called customer service numerous times beforehand about these problems and it never seemed to help, but I called again. To make a long story short, the carrier's supervisor personally began checking to see if I #1: had my paper, and #2 it was on the porch. Thankfully I never had a major incident again, and just last fall recieved a new carrier who has since been wonderful.
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Jokerman
Member
Username: Jokerman

Post Number: 12
Registered: 07-2005
Posted From: 67.125.189.14
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 6:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I had a great Detroit News route in the sixties from about the 6th grade all the way through high school. I had nearly every house in a six block area plus one block on a side street. That gave me many cutomers in a very small area. It helped to teach me the value of working hard and being responsible. At that time we had to collect payment every week in order to pay our paper bill at the paper station. This was especially difficult in January and February. Every once in awhile, a customer would let me come in from the cold while they searched for their money. This was greatly appreciated. A quarter tip was a big deal at that time. I hated the people that would make me come back several times before they paid me or the ones tht would plead poverty and ask me to come back next week. My favorite customer gave me a 75 cents tip every week. Needless to say, I gave her the best sevice.

I demand that my current carrier (I've never seen him or her.) put my paper on my porch. I've told the service department, over the phone, that if I have to walk to the sidelwalk, the street, or the driveway for my paper, I might as well walk to the store and buy a paper. After several complaints, the carrier now does it right.
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Mikem
Member
Username: Mikem

Post Number: 2464
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.43.15.105
Posted on Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - 11:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Who's going to start a thread about being a caddy?
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Mikeg
Member
Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 55
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 69.136.155.244
Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 2:03 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I had a FP route back in 1966-69 with 120+ customers. It was a great learning and earning experience - except for the Nov. 1967 to Aug. 1968 newspaper strike which wiped out all of my Christmas tip opportunities.

Every morning at 3:30 a.m., my paper bundles were dropped off on the steps of the bank near the start of my route - and by 3:45 they were on the back of my Schwinn. I had a lot of plant workers on my route and since they typically started work at 6:00 a.m., if I didn't have their paper delivered before 5:00 a.m., they wouldn't subscribe. I would be done with my route by then and I would go home and get some more shut-eye before getting back up for school.

I still remember the rainy morning when I was pedalling down the street to get to my route. I had my head down because of the rain and I happened to look up just in time to see that I was less than 10 feet from hitting the back bumper of a parked car. I hit the brakes and had nearly come to a stop when my front wheel hit the bumper and I partially went over the handle bars onto the trunk lid of the car. Fortunately, the low speed collision did no damage to either the car, bike or me, but it sure did wake me up!

Another memory comes from the cold afternoon I spent collecting from my customers, one of whom had a minature poodle. She let her dog out after paying me and as I'm standing on the sidewalk next to my bike marking her card, I felt her dog lifting its leg up against my leg. The next thing that dog knew, it was flying through the air, courtesy of my damp foot.

I can't vouch for the validity of this factoid, but I was once told by a "Big 3" HR manager back in the late 1970's that they had found when recuiting and hiring college graduates, experience as a paper carrier was a better predictor of future career success than high SATs or GPAs.
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Czar
Member
Username: Czar

Post Number: 3054
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 72.49.166.173
Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 8:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah, kicking a dog is a fucking hilarious memory. Psychopath.
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Bongman
Member
Username: Bongman

Post Number: 1061
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 198.111.56.128
Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 8:43 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I had a Free Press route from 72-76. One of the craziest things I remember was a german shephard named "Hondo". Every morning I would try to sneak on to the porch and put the paper in the mailbox without "Hondo" knowing. The dog lived in a tri-level, and I could here him bounding down the steps until he smacked right into the glass or the front door. I'd run like hell to get out of there. One morning it finally happened...Hondo went right thru the picture window. I ran all the way to the street and hopped on top of a station wagon. It took one call from the owner upstairs....HONDO !! The dog would stop and calmly go back inside. Man that used to get my heart pumping !

My first two stops were our neighbors to the left. People would be leaving for work in the morning, so you had to be careful where you left your bike. I could hear my neighbor's car running in the garage, and the door was shut. I figured the door was going to pop open any second, so I hopped on my bike and moved on. Turned out my neighbor was committing suicide in his garage...exhaust in the window, all rolled up. They found him about two hours after I had delivered the paper. Always felt a little guilty that I hadn't put two and two together. What made it worse was his daughter was a classmate of mine.

I used to bring an extra paper bag on my bike just to collect all the stray baseballs and other sporting equipment that layed around the neighborhood.

One customer insisted that I leave his paper in a milk crate at his side entrance. He tipped well, so I didn't mind. One day I put the paper in the box, and the whole thing was filled with old Playboy magazines ! Needless to say, I hit the 12 year old jackpot, and my friends and I slept out for a week perusing the pages. I was the most popular kid in the neighborhood for a while.
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Mikeg
Member
Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 56
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 69.136.155.244
Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 8:59 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Czar, take a minute and re-read my post. Nowhere did I write that I kicked the dog, so why are you accusing me of that?

In that situation, the top of my foot was already located under the belly of the dog so I attempted to lift him up and over onto the grass with my foot. Of course he didn't like that any more than I liked what he had done to me, so he squirmed off my foot and fell to the ground - thus he "flew through the air". Besides, any paperboy knows better than to abuse a dog, particularly one along your route and especially right in front of the dog's owner.
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The_rock
Member
Username: The_rock

Post Number: 1205
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 68.42.251.225
Posted on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 9:21 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Anyone out there remember The Detroit Shopping News? It came out on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I deliverd 110 copies to a neighborhood about 2 miles away, somehow stuffing all 110 papers in a yellow canvas bag placed over the handlebars of my Schwinn Phantom bicycle. The bike was heavy enough as is, but add 110 papers to it was almost too much for this lad.
What did I make each trip? One buck, yes, one dollar. Total: 2 bucks a week. And I had to fold all the papers, too.
The open fields of Birmingham in the late 40's were strewn with old copies of the DSN from deliveryboys who got discouraged, but I faithfully delivered all 110 copies twice a week.
Some folks did not want the paper and would bellow at me to stay away. Tips? Unheardof when it came to the Detrot Shopping News. One summer was enough.

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