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The Paper Route (standard:drama, 982 words)
Author: Maureen StirsmanAdded: Dec 02 2003Views/Reads: 2999/1591Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
My husband, Tom, was twelve years old in 1948. His paper route was in the high rise apartments in Chicago. And--it was Christmas.

The Paper Route 

He was twelve years old that Christmas in 1948.  Every morning for the
past year he had gotten up two hours earlier than the year before to do 
his paper route.  Then he hurried home for a bowl of Wheaties and a 
glass of Ovaltine, before running down the block to St. James Lutheran 
School.  He liked the German teachers there and the special picnics in 
the summer with baloney on big slabs of soft white bread.  At this time 
of year he enjoyed the special programs where the real meaning of 
Christmas was emphasized.  He lived in Chicago in a basement apartment 
with his parents and two brothers.  Tom Pat had a good life. 

Each morning he pulled on his clothes and ran the block to the newspaper
office where he stood in line waiting to count his papers.  He quickly 
learned to fold the newspapers around the advertisements and by the 
time his hands were black from the print he was ready to go. 

He loaded his papers into a three-wheeled cart provided by the Chicago
Tribune and pushed the 400 papers to the first stop, the three story 
red brick apartment building on the corner.  He grabbed thirty papers 
and ran up three flights of stairs, tossing a paper at each customer's 
door.  Soon he was back to the cart and pushed it next door to do the 
same thing there.  Sometimes he would see someone in the hall.  “Hi, 
honey.  Is it cold out there?”  A grandmother with white hair in metals 
curlers pulled her chenille robe closer around her heavyset body and 
shuffled in fluffy purple slippers. 

A thin-faced man walking a poodle shouted, “Hey, boy, do you have any

Ninety minutes later Tom Pat pushed the empty cart back to the newspaper
office and was soon sitting in the warm schoolroom that smelled of 
chalk and peanut butter sandwiches.  He usually went home for lunch but 
today his mother was going Christmas shopping and gave him 25 cents to 
buy his lunch at the corner drug store.  He sat on the steps of the 
store eating cheese crackers and drinking chocolate pop.  He loved 
these days.  By the time he got back to school white fluffy flakes were 
falling on the playground.  Maybe it would be a white Christmas like 
everyone sang about after all. 

After school Tom Pat repeated the process of delivering papers going to
as many apartments as in the morning and some one-family homes too.  
The ‘Trib' reported ‘seven shopping days until Christmas'.  It was a 
very exciting time of year. 

Ordinarily the boys didn't have to collect for the newspapers but at
Christmas they had a supply of calendars that they delivered 
personally. That Saturday Tom Pat knocked on the door of each customer. 
 “Hello, I'm your paper boy.  Here is your calendar.”  Everyone gave 
him a quarter, some a dollar.  Mrs. Kennedy asked him to come in for a 
cookie and glass of milk.  The red and green frosted sugar cookies were 
not like his mother's famous chocolate chip, but they were good anyway. 
 And there were many presents under her tree. Tom Pat's mother shopped 
carefully for the three boys and always sent a package back to Kentucky 
to her mother and four sisters.  Although her husband, Tom, had a 
steady job at the train factory, money was tight and it was expensive 
to live in Chicago. 

Tom Pat passed out the calendars and counted his money- $250.00.  It was
a fortune.  The things he could buy with that much money- basketballs, 
bikes, wagons- wonderful things.  Why he could go to Dinkle's Bakery 
and get sweet rolls for everyone.  For the next half hour he dreamed 
and touched the coins and bills in his pocket.  Then back to reality- 
he started home. 

His mother was at the sink peeling potatoes when he got there.  There
was plate of chocolate chip cookies on the table.  “How was your day, 
honey?” she asked. 

“Oh, good.” he said.  “Today we gave out the calendars.” 

“Great.” Eloise turned to her son.  “Did your customers give you

“Yes, Mama.”  He took part of the bills from his pocket and handed them

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