For the January 17, 2022 KGUA Radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, we are asked to write to the prompt: Go back to a time in your youth.
I set off on my rounds in the neighborhood with the latest news wedged in baskets behind me. I’ve been on this route for five years. Putting a rubber band around a tightly wrapped small bundle, I wing it on to the driveway of 1 Beekman Place with a thwack. Without missing a beat, I’m rolling on to 6 Beekman Place.
Delivering newspapers on my bicycle, two metal baskets in the back, I toss 35 copies of the Bergen Record on driveways after school through much of my junior high and high school years.
I charge customers $0.33 per week for six days delivery from Monday through Saturday. In turn, I must pay the Bergen Record $0.21 per week for the papers themselves. You can do the math to see that I make a cool $0.12 per week per customer, not including tips. It felt like decent money for a kid in the 60s.
And then one afternoon in late November, 58 years ago, the truck dropping off my bundle of papers is late, like two hours late. I sit on the curb in disbelief, not at the late drop-off, but because I had learned earlier during my high school biology class that President John Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
In the era long before the Internet and cable news, I was the one to confirm what all my neighbors knew or were about to know that the president had been shot.
At the age of fifteen, it was the saddest day of my life.
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