From a Facebook Post:
This morning my wife and I had breakfast at a local diner and a young girl (10 year old … likely a daughter of a waitress ) was serving coffee and asking if we needed anything. She was great. She took our credit card and ran up the payment.
It led to a conversation with my wife about our young work & life learning experiences. From around 1972-76 (age 12-16) I delivered papers for the Vista Press. As kids we used to go out on solicitation evenings getting subscriptions (starts) for the paper. Our route manager would take about 5 or 6 of us in the evenings through all kinds of housing tracts … knocking on doors and asking people if they wanted to take the paper. (Maybe 75 cents a month – what a deal!). There we were, running around neighborhoods at night knocking on doors (no cell phones : ) and talking to strangers.
Vista Press was an afternoon paper that was about 3-4 days per week including Sunday morning …. folding and delivering papers with those rubber bands and collecting at the end of each month with your ticket receipt book. Paying your monthly bills and figuring out how much you made at the end of the months. Tips were great! (My brothers delivers the huge San Diego Union – early mornings – ugh)!
My route was in the Vista Manor mobile home park off Olive Drive and I had around 80 customers – all over 55 years of age and mostly retired. What a variety of people – happy, thankful, cranky, deaf, heavy smokers, weird cooking smells, loud TV’s blaring, widowed, married! I can still picture one customer who was a heavy cigar smoker and when he answered his door a big wall of smoke exited the house and enveloped you.
Some of those people were not the easiest to deal with and pay their 75cent monthly bill … so here’s a 13 year old kid telling a cranky old man (Mr Fisher in space #4) that you had to cut him off for non-payment and you have a receipt book to show him that he hadn’t paid that month … and then remind him that you had to pay a monthly bill for those papers. Then you had to explain that situation to your circulation manager because the customer would call the Vista Press circulation desk that they didn’t get a paper that next day.
Rain or shine we delivered those papers on the bike with the paper bags in front and back … wrapping your papers in polybags, sometimes wearing a poncho and coming back home soaked with a stripe of mud up your back from your fenderless back tire. On good days my dog (a tough old mutt) would follow me on the paper route. He was pretty fast. Sometimes my dog and I would stop at 7-11 on Melrose for a slurpee on the way home.
I still have a nasty 8” scar on my right leg from a bad bike accident while on that paper route. One of the old timers in the mobile home park (a Korean War Vet) helped me clean up the wound and patch my leg from his first aid kit. Fifty some years later while at the beach, my grandkids ask how I got that scar and so I tell them about my Vista Press paper route days. Ha! (Doctor King didn’t stitch it up – he said I would have bragging rights on that scar – he was right! May God bless Doctor King).
Truly an era long passed! Times certainly change. I am thankful for those memories and character-building experiences … even for Mr Fisher in space #4.
I would like to think that all those early responsibilities as a kid and dealing with people of all ages were important development stages of my life.
I still like talking with older people and their life experiences … but now I am one of them! Ha!
I hope to be an encouragement to these youngsters that come across my path realizing that perhaps 50 years later you can have a helpful or positive influence.
I know there have been earlier notes on this page of Vista Press delivery people. Are there any interesting experiences that are worth sharing?
Writer John Dennis
This is just two replies to this post.
Sam Romo I delivered the Vista Press for a few years in the late 60s and 70s, then the Times Advocate for a few more years. Still have my bags..
That picture brings back a lot of memories. It was that full paper bag in the front that saved me from getting hurt worse in the bike accident. I went flying over the handle bars and thankfully landed on that full load of papers in the front. Like landing on a pillow. Ha!
Great article on the paper delivery boy. More articles like this, please.