A paper route + a bike = you know everyone in the neighborhood

My two brothers and I had contiguous paper routes in Tallahassee, Florida, while we were in junior high and high school that we ran on our bikes every morning for years. We knew everyone in most of the houses from the high school to the north edge of town in the neighborhood where we lived.

I believe I got my paper route first followed by my brothers getting paper routes. When one of us was sick, Mother ran all three routes in the car while one of us handled all three routes. We delivered The Florida Times-Union, from Jacksonville, in the mornings. That meant we were up early because we had to get all the papers out before we went to school.

Sometimes I even substituted for the carrier delivering the local paper when he was sick. His route covered the same territory as mine, the difference being that he delivered papers to almost every house. That made it easy for me since I seldom had to worry if a home got a pape or not. Most did.

Most of the people on our routes paid us monthly for the paper. That meant going from house to house down our customer lists collecting for the paper. None of the dogs liked us. One bit me. Most of the people paid, though some bounced checks or the person with the money wasn’t home. I could have written a book about the trials and tribulations of a newspaper carrier, listing (among other things) the excuses for not being able to pay to the eccentric places in their yards where they wanted the paper to be tossed.

A surprising number of people knew our parents through PTA, the university, Scouting, and various civic clubs. Even though Tallahassee had less than 40,000 people then, within our paper route neighborhoods, the atmosphere was very much that of a smaller town. And, since I walked or rode my bike to school–through our paper route area–everyone knew who I was, where I was, and whether I was doing anything wrong (in their parental opinions).

I liked having a paper route because it was an easy way to earn money. I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t walk or ride anywhere without somebody seeing me and remarking to my parents that they saw me walking down Spruce Street later than expected, to which my parents replied “he has band practice after school.” While that response kept the spies from thinking I was up to something, I didn’t really like them knowing everything about my schedule.

Of course, if anyone told my parents they thought I threw a rock at their yapping doggie, I could always tell my parents they bounced two checks and still owed me for two months’ worth of papers.

There are days when it seemed like a war zone out there and days when I knew that knowing everyone (and their foibles) in every house gave me more power than a teenager ought to have. Tattle on me, suckers, and your paper’s going in the flower bed with the snakes.


I didn’t want to get sued, so I never wrote that “What the Newspaper Boy Knows” novel

CPJ Safety Advisory: Covering the build-up to the U.S. presidential inauguration

Based on the levels of violence and tactics used by both police and protesters at U.S. protests in 2020, and during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, journalists reporting from upcoming political events and protests should be aware of and consider the following risks: Firing of rubber bullets, baton rounds, and projectilesLiberal use of pepper spray and tear gas Verbal aggression and physical attacks from protesters and militia groups The potential use of live ammunition by the police and/or protesters The dangers associated with attacks on buildings, vehicles, and barricades The dangers associated with rioting, looting, and arson The use of water cannons and long-range audio devices by the police Potential vehicle ramming of crowdsArrest and detention

Source: CPJ Safety Advisory: Covering the build-up to the U.S. presidential inauguration – Committee to Protect Journalists

Years ago, I would have expected safety precautions and other warnings to reporters who were covering elections in a dangerous foreign country. But this is the United States. If you’re a journalist, the article is filled with helpful advice. I’m just sorry to see it issued for our country.

When I was in high school, I went with the band to participate in the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. Somewhere I have a photo of all of us posed on the Capitol steps. Now, that entire area is roped off, so to speak, as a red zone that few people can enter. There are national guard troops everywhere. If you’re a tourist, you probably won’t see anything. If you’re a reporter, you might see more than you can tolerate, and your life and your press freedom will be on the line.


My father, mother,  uncle, and I all taught journalism courses. There’s no way we could have prepared our students for this. Berry College, where I taught, really doesn’t look like the kind of environment for training prospective reporters how to be Navy Seals.

Historic Newspapers on line help researchers and hobbyists

Nothing is more frustrating to an author, researcher or individual with a passion for a place or a historical period than to discover that the records they want to see are stored in a university or historical society library where they are classified in terms of linear feet. Internet searches that yield such hits are a real barrier to learning more, finding family histories, or finishing a book.

Fortunately, more and more organizations and units of government are funding the creation of searchable databases of digitized records. If you know anyone searching for their great great grandparents on Ancestry.com, then you’ve probably heard that new material is becoming available daily.

Now, Chronicling America is bringing old newspapers into the modern world by scanning them into a publicly accessible database with full-text search capabilities via names, topics, places and keywords. Called the National Digital Newspaper Program, the project represents a joint effort of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC).

The Montana Historical Society noted in the current edition of “Montana, the Magazine of Western History,” that issues of the Anaconda Standard, Butte New Age, The Colored Citizen, Daily Yellowstone Journal, Fergus County Argus, Helena Independent, Mineral Argus, Montana News and Montana Post in the late 1800s are now available. Many more papers and issues will come online between now and 2013.

As a fan of Glacier National Park, I found an immediate number of hits for materials I’d never had access to before unless I was willing to pay a researcher or staff member at a library several dollars per page to Xerox and snail mail me materials out of a collection—and then hope I guessed right about the dates and page numbers.

Your special places may be covered by newspapers that are already available. The searches are easy and free. Of, if you’re just browsing, the site’s homepage displays old newspapers from the current date.