Brothers having paper routes in the 40's
| All newspapers were delivered by boys and girls were not allowed though I went with them at times. My brothers delivered the newspapers five days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which they got to keep 2 cents. On Saturday they had to collect the 42 cents from each customers, the favorite customers were the ones who gave 50 cents and told to keep the change. The least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day. Rain snow and summer heat never stopped them from getting the papers to their customers homes.
They were in third and fourth grade, let’s see, I guess that would have made them about 9 and 10 years old. It was in the city of Hartford Connecticut.
They delivered the papers after school and used a red wagon instead of bikes, we were poor and couldn’t afford bikes. We were Irish catholics living in an Italian neighborhood and that meant trouble for the boy’s.
Especially my younger brother because he had bright red curly hair and big freckles all over his pale white face.
You ask….how is it that that, would be trouble for the boy’s?
Irish and Italian’s did not mix together very well in those days. The Italian boy’s named Jo, Rocky, and I don’t remember the other names would be on the corner when the bundle of papers were dropped off to be folded and put in the red wagon by my brothers.
Rocky and friends would scatter the papers all over the streets and passing cars would carry them off on their hoods, roofs and trunks never to be seen again. Other times Rocky and friends would wait till the papers were all folded and stacked neatly and ready to be delivered, the hoodlums then would throw them all over the streets. No one could do anything about it and my brothers just kept silent and took it.
Well it did escalate to the point where Rocky and friends were waiting on the corner along with, this time, untouched papers, they had other plans this particular afternoon.
They wrapped white adhesive tape all over the boys heads. My mother had to cut most of their hair off and they went to school the next day almost bald, along with mother, who went right to the principal’s office to give Father O’Malley a “Show and Tell” complaint. The priquestioned my brothers until he was blue in the face but my brother’s would not “squeal” on Rocky and friends.
The very next evening the Italian boy’s were waiting on the corner for my brothers. The news papers were all folded and stacked neatly on the sidewalk. As soon as the boy’s appeared, Rocky and friend’s placed the folded papers in the wagon and walked away. That was it! My brothers were never bothered again though every so often when they got to the corner where the bundles of papers was left off, they would find a nicely folded stack of newspapers and they knew they were safe, not just from Rocky and friends but from any other bully’s that might come around. The word got out.....don’t nobody mess with the Irish paper boy’s because the Italian boy’s were watching over them.
Thank you for taking the time out to read and comment on my short story. I have gotten much criticism on making known the nationalities of the subjects even though it has a great outcome. The whole story revolves around the nationalities and the treatment my brothers got. I have made most of the changes recommended.