Years ago, as a young teenager, Steve John would rise at an ungodly hour each morning, dress for the weather, and embark on a hilly, miles-long paper route for about two hours to deliver The Norwich Bulletin to about 125 customers in and around the city’s Cherry Hill and Glenwood Avenue neighborhoods.
Like the U.S. Postal Service, “neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night” would deter him from his appointed rounds, except his load was heavier, he delivered seven days a week, including holidays, and when he was finished, he would then go to school for the next seven hours.
“I can remember usually starting out in the dark and coming home with the sun just coming up and warming me up,” recalled Steve, who now lives in the Newent section of Lisbon. “I just loved to see that sun. … I remember freezing my buns off in the winter.
“Collecting money was always a chore too. I tried to get everyone to leave their money in envelopes for Saturday pick-up, but there was always a percentage that I had to go to to collect.”
Steve inherited the paper route from his older brother, Peter, and several years later when he gave it up, it had grown so large as a result of his great service and growth of the Cherry Hill subdivision that it had to be divided into three separate routes.
As I did back then when I retrieved the paper from our doorstep every morning, I marvel today at Steve’s extraordinary work ethic. Yes, if the weather was really inclement, his dad would drive him, but that didn’t happen often. Most days, he’d load heavy bags of newspapers and attach them to the front and sides of his Sting-Ray bike, then venture out into the morning darkness to bring his neighbors their daily news — every single day.
No matter how early I rose in the morning, the paper was always there.
There aren’t many paper boys or paper girls left these days, and if the present trend continues, home delivery of daily newspapers may someday be a thing of the past. In recent years, more and more paper routes are covered by adults in cars and trucks. Teenagers today seem to have more important things to do than deliver newspapers, a demanding daily job for relatively little compensation. And with more people getting their news from TV, radio, social media and from online sites provided by the newspapers themselves, home delivery is rapidly becoming a service with diminishing returns for this financially struggling industry.
Newsroom staffs and newspaper advertising today are a mere fraction …….