Of Hills and Inboxes: My Life as a Paperboy

The daily newsletter is an easy way to get our daily edition of the Patch.

My first job ever has a lot in common with the job I am doing now. Sort of.

You see, at the age of 12 I began delivering newspapers for the San Francisco Chronicle. The job was tough, my paper route was in a hilly area of Daly City known as Top of the Hill.

It wasn't easy walking up and down those hills with a bag weighing about 50 pounds, sometimes more when more subscribers were added to the paper route, every day after school when I was already tired from the day. 

The worst day of the week was perhaps Sunday -- or as I used to call it Hell Day -- when the thick papers full of the advertisements would roll out and the weight and girth of the papers rose significantly. I would always enlist the help of my friends to help me on Hell Day by promising them a cut of my paycheck, which amounted to about $25 or $30 every two weeks.

I would usually pay them about $10 to help, so my take home pay, after taxes, was roughly $15. Hell Day would start a 5 a.m., when my entire house was asleep and it was still dark outside. The newspapers would always be waiting for me on my front steps, bundled, and ready to be wrapped.

We used to wrap each one of them by hand, which usually took about an hour, divide the papers up evenly, and begin walking the hills in almost always chilly weather to deliver Sunday's edition of the Chronicle.

Those were the days. Today, I'm still delivering the news, only differently.

We live in a digital world, where paperboys such as the 12-year-old version of me, are replaced by laptops, smart phones and televisions. The paper boy of today comes in the form of a nifty newsletter that's delivered to your e-mail inbox every morning.

The newsletter is populated with the daily edition of the Patch and is a good way to start your day off 'in the know' so to speak. Once signed up for the newsletter, you will also be notified when news breaks in Dixon -- whenever there is essential information to share with the community or an emergency happens.

The newsletter is free to everyone, which in this day and age where many newspapers charge for content (they have paper boys to pay out and MANY others), is pretty cool.

If you haven't signed up for our newsletter, you can do so by clicking here.

Bil Paul February 27, 2012 at 01:14 AM
I was a paperboy growing up in Wisconsin. Delivering papers when the temperature was -25 degrees F could be a bear. I can remember arriving back at home after trudging through the drifts and holding my frozen bare feet in front of the hot air vent. But it was a small town and I only had 30 papers to deliver. Back then (in the 1950s) we had to collect payments from subscribers, probably every two weeks, for the newspaper. And every year we had a magazine drive where we tried to sell magazine subscriptions to our customers. Sell enough, and we'd win prizes. That's how I got my first camera. Yeah!
Carlos Villatoro February 27, 2012 at 03:23 AM
It seems as if it's a dying profession Bil. But man o man, did it teach me about the value of a dollar. It wasn't easy for an overweight kid like me to walk up and down those hills!
Randy Davis February 27, 2012 at 05:42 AM
Carlos, I can't resist sharing my experience as a paperboy. I "threw" the Fresno Bee in Delano, California in the late 60's. I eventually had the biggest route in town and delivered the paper on my Western Flyer bicycle. Things were very different back then. Being a paperboy meant delivering the paper seven days a week, collecting payments, and drumming up new customers. We were also expected to put the paper on the porch each and every day. These days if our paper is somewhere we can find it, and not wet, we are satisfied. I didn't have a problem delivering the paper, but I hated collecting payments and I didn't like knocking on doors to get new subscriptions. I also didn't like getting chased by vicious dogs on a regular basis. I remember that we even had to buy the rubber bands that went around the paper. Sundays really sucked....I had to get up by 3:30 a.m. and paper was really, really big. The most I ever made for the largest route in town was $30.00 a month. We were docked fifty cents for any complaint that was received. The pay was lousy for the amount of work. However, $30 went pretty far in the time of five cent candy bars and ten cent sodas. I also learned the value of a dollar and how to escape vicious dogs.
Carlos Villatoro February 27, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Thank you for sharing that Randy. Man! Your route sounds way tougher than mine! I never had to collect payments or try and get new subscribers. The rubber bands came in a big plastic bag and were free. I don't miss the ink-stained hands after an afternoon of wrapping and the paper cuts too! Times have indeed changed.
Aaron February 28, 2012 at 05:39 AM
I did a Sacramento BEE route for about six months. Up at 5 am each morning to fold (and bag if it's raining) a hundred fifty or so papers and heading out on the bike... rain or shine. (Sometimes finding the bike tire flat so you have to patch tire before rolling out.) Getting it all done by 0700 and then heading for school. No sleeping in on the weekends. Sunday paper was three times the size of the weekday edition. Printers ink on the hands. Broken rubberbands snapping into the face. Seven days a week... no day off... ever! And, it was all for what? Yep... about $75 per month... and that's if the 12 year old can get the subscribers to pay up when the kid goes collecting. All that for a few dollars a day. I can't believe that kind of child exploitation was even lawful!


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