Friday, May 25, 2007


I was a paperboy for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press from the summer of '85 until the spring of '87. It allowed me to have plenty of spending money at my disposal to buy cassettes and go to movies. But since I was living in Winona and delivering a Twin Cities paper, I had to cover a lot of ground to deliver 45 papers (most preferred the Winona paper). I walked close to 2 miles each morning, every morning. I would get up at about 5:30 or 6:00am, a time when I knew the papers would be on my porch. If the papers weren't there yet, I would watch TV while I waited for them to arrive. Two of the shows I watched while waiting included "What's Happening!"

and "The White Shadow".

Once the papers arrived, I put them in my official Pioneer Press bag. Since the route took about an hour, I made sure to dress warm during the winter. On the coldest days, I would wear 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, and 2 hats (one for over my head, another a ski mask to cover my face). The bag could be fairly heavy as I started the route, but as I delivered the papers, the bag gradually became lighter (Sunday papers were the worst. Due to their bulky size, I always needed to make a trip or two back home to get more papers. Sometimes my stepdad Phil would drive me around to deliver the last of 'em).

One of the places I delievered to was the Watkins retirement home. It was great to warm up in there on the coldest days. However, the Watkins home was near the beginning of the route, so I usually wasn't too cold yet. About 2/3rds into the route, there was a house that had a small porch and, on the most severe days, I would silently enter it, leave the paper there, and then warm up for a minute or two. One guy always liked having his paper wrapped in a rubber band and then put on the top of his car so that it would be there when he left for work. This one freakin' house on Franklin, I had to climb all the way to the 3rd floor to deliver his paper. Winter days were extra difficult because most people hadn't shoveled their walk yet after a snowfall the night before.

Another thing that came with the job was collecting. This is where I would go to subscribers' houses to collect their payment for 2 weeks or a month of service. I probably did this about twice a week usually in the early evening. This was a rare chance to meet the people I was delivering to each day. One of the people I collected from said she was one of my dad's teachers in school and to say hi to him. A young lady had just come out of the shower and put a robe on when I was out one night. One of my subscribers (an older gent) passed on, so obviously his subscription was stopped.

Since this was before the internet, being a paperboy, I was one of the first to get the latest news on what was going on in the world. I decided to quit the route in the spring of '87. I had grown tired of getting up early every day of the year (though there was one time in which I went out of town with my mom and had someone cover for me for a weekend). As far as spending money, my dad offered me a job working in the parts department of his RV business.

One of my last days delivering was May 25, 1987 (exactly 20 years ago today). I was delivering one of my last papers on that morning and the date caught my attention. It was on May 25th, four years previously, that I had seen "Return of the Jedi" on opening day. It was exactly ten years to the day that the original "Star Wars" had come out (today is the 30-year anniversary of the release of "Star Wars"). I wondered if there would be any media coverage of this, so that evening I watched "Showbiz Today" on CNN with Bill Tush. Sure enough, they did mention it. I hadn't really been into "Star Wars" for a few years, but the anniversary renewed my interest. I went to Goltz Pharmacy and they had a special 10th anniversary salute to the Star Wars saga.

I wanted to see the movies again, so had my dad take me to the Best Buy in LaCrosse so I could buy my first VCR (a Symphonic!). I bought all 3 of the Star Wars movies (they each cost 29.99) and watched them constantly. I plastered my bedroom wall with Star Wars pictures and clippings (not unlike what the girls did after seeing "Titanic").

A few months later with mom expecting twin girls, Phil, mom, and I moved to a big house in Valley Oaks, a new subdivision on the southeast side of Winona.

1 comment:

the108 said...

I had pictures of Jim Morrison all over my walls. And Pavel Bure, my favorite hockey player back then.

Paper routes fascinate me although I never had one. I'll bet you were adorable.