The Most Wonderful Time of the Year …

Back in the 1960s, my brothers and I had paper routes in town, delivering the Globe, Record American, and Herald Traveler. We got our papers from East Dedham News, which was operated by a man named Bob Stadelmann who was located in East Dedham Square. After the redevelopment of that area, Bob moved his operation to Sprague Street in the Manor. Eventually, I took over the routes by myself, delivering afternoon dailies and the Sunday editions in my Tower St. neighborhood.

Christmas was indeed the most wonderful time of the year for paperboys, for that’s when we got our holiday tips. You can’t imagine the excitement felt by 10-year old me on a cold Sunday morning in December as I placed the thick newspapers between the doors of my customers and found a card-sized envelope that might contain an extra buck or two. This card came from a Mrs. Donavan:

This next card was a cardboard stocking with slots on the inside that held ten dimes. It impressed me so much I’ve kept it for over 50 years! (After removing the dimes). Lillian O’Connor lived about three doors down from me on Tower Street but apparently did not know my name.

I gave up my paper route in high school but continued selling Sunday papers for East Dedham News. Bob’s son Mark would pick me up in his van and drop me off with a stack of papers at this island at the intersection of High and Milton streets, where I would stay until noon, or until I ran out of papers.

The intersection of High and Milton/Bussey

This job was such an important part of my high school experience, I mentioned it in my senior yearbook profile. I also wrote a poem called “Sunday Morning Lament.” It begins:

I sit all alone on an island in the street.
The wind at my back, the cold in my feet….

and continues…

A rip or a wrinkle in the funnies won’t do.
They all want a paper that’s clean and brand new.

Despite my poetic protestations, it was a good part time job for a high schooler. I sold a lot of papers, made a lot of money in tips and met some interesting characters, one of whom passed me a counterfeit $10 bill one morning. I was so scared, I gave him his paper and his $9.45 in change and stuffed the phony bill in my apron. Later I showed it to my mother who hid it deep in the top drawer of her dresser where it stayed for decades.

My change apron, from the bicentennial year 1976
Returning home to Tower St. with unsold papers, ca. 1975
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12 Comments on “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year …”

  1. Says:

    How do I not remember you doing that island???


  2. Lynne Damianos Says:

    Love this – all of it! Especially the story about the card with the dimes. What a great marketing campaign by the bank! How wonderful that you saved these items.


  3. Kathy DiMare Says:

    Hey! Your sister had that Sunday route too!


  4. Joseph Walsh Says:

    My story from the late ’50s is much he same, Jim.

    I remember looking in my paperboy bag to identify which paper was which…red stripe = The Globe, Blue = Herald Traveler, Green = Record American, no stripe = Christian Science Monitor.
    My route was Abbott Road, Mount Vernon, down Park Street. I “inherited” it from neighboring “big kid” Brad King (wonderful guy)
    Ring the doorbell on Fridays and announce “Collectin’!”
    Mr. Lawler on Park used to tip a me a quarter now and then.
    My favorite teacher at Oakdale, Miss Schmaltz (5th grade), lived on Abbott and was a customer…she would occasionally give me hot chocolate on cold days.


  5. Phil Giguere Says:

    Great story! I worked at the News store in Dedham Square during high school. First it was as a “runner” delivering papers on Sunday morning for whomever happed to be the driver. Then it was working in the store at 4:00 AM on Sunday stuffing papers and stacking the papers for different routes, sometimes having to drive when a driver did not show up!


  6. Katy Says:

    That is so cool! Now I know where I get the “collecting” gene from! Haha! You know, things like a small square of fancy wrapping paper and an Anne of Green Gables book sealed up in a gallon ziploc bag so it didn’t get ruined 🙂


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