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March 21, 2011

I was an unusual little girl. I am the memory-keeper of my family.

I want to take some of these memories out once in awhile, and sift through them like old postcards from friends. It is a rainy and gloomy day. PERFECT! I have been wanting to do some Spring Cleaning. Isn’t this the first day of Spring?

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Paper Route

I wanted a paper route.  This was in 1971.  Girls did not get paper routes!  That was still strictly the territory of boys.  I wrote a few letters to the local newspapers asking, but I did not get a response.

Finally, I wrote a letter to the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.). A very nice lady named Nona C. Volk replied. I still have the letter.

Apparently she took quite seriously the plight of a little 11-year-old girl in Southern California!  A short time later I had three different newspaper delivery departments calling me—begging me to PLEASE take a route and get those NOW people off their backs!

I took the one that seemed the least HEAVY. The Orange County Herald Examiner had only one early morning delivery (Sundays). The rest of the week I could deliver papers

every afternoon, on my bike.

The Examiner had a route opening up very near to me. Just down the street, in fact!

The boy who taught me my route was sort of RUDE. He spoke barely three words to me.

He rode his bike very fast so that I had to peddle hard to keep up. Even then he stayed just barely within my sight, waiting impatiently at each corner.

It was obvious to me that he did not like me, and that he did not want to teach me the route.  It was many years later that it occurred to me that he might have had an excellent reason to be pissed.

It was 1971. Helen Reddy, Woman Hear Me Roar! Feminism reigned supreme. The people at NOW undoubtedly had many fine lawyers who put some pressure on the local newspapers. Were they saying that a LITTLE GIRL was incapable of carrying the newspaper?  That lit a big fire under the news people. They were quite willing to hire me if it would get those lawyers off their case!

The Herald Examiner selected the route that was closest to my house. They sacrificed the

kid that already had it. To make matters worse (for the boy), he had to be a man about it. He had to show his replacement where the customers were, before he himself was fired.

That must have been a tough break for a young man.  All I knew is that he did not seem to like me very much.

The route comprised about ten miles and had about 68 customers. There were shor-cuts that kids on bikes could use, where a car could not so it was necessary for him to ride with me to show me the way.  For him it was especially crappy because:

*       He was getting replaced by a GIRL

*       He had to TEACH a girl the route

*       He had to BE SEEN riding bikes with this same GIRL

*       He would be fired, but he had to do what they told him.


The experience of WINNING was fabulous.  I basked in my own success. I was about to become the World’s Best Newspaper Carrier…

But wait—no one said that I would be working on holidays.  On RAINY days…on days when I was so sick that I could barely get out of bed. There was one day when my Mom delivered the papers for me but it was almost more of a chore to make a list of customers and a map, than to just do the route myself.

I was already the slick and savvy bizz-wizz that I am now—I made a bundle in tips over the holidays. At the end of November I put a Christmas card inside of all of the Sunday papers.

“Greetings from your Carrier”


What a hit! I had some really good tips when I went around collecting for the paper!

There was one guy who was a happy holiday drinker. He gave me a $20 to pay the $3.25 fee, and said, “Honey, keep the change!”

Due to the unrelenting DAILY-NESS of the job,

I grew tired of it very quickly. I think that if it had not been for the efforts of Ms. Volk and her merry band of feminist lawyers, I never would have gotten the job.

I felt that I owed it to them to try to stick it out for as long as I could possibly stand it! I kept the job for eleven months. I finally quit when it became clear that I was barely making enough money to justify the amount of effort!

Delivering the news is a heavy job, which is why most papers are now delivered by adults, and with a car.

I saved the money that I made because I wanted to buy something nice. At age eleven, my most pressing desire was to have a TV in my room. I used my paper route money,

$77 to be exact. I bought an RCA portable black and white television with a 12-inch screen. That TV was great! I kept it until it quit, and that was about twenty years.




One Comment leave one →
  1. martha permalink
    December 11, 2012 1:51 am

    This is actually quite funny because I just met Nona Volk and she is an amazing woman! After meeting her, I can only imagine how heartfelt the letter to you was!

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