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Print | THE PAPER BOY : Part V
Unalienable Rights© - Jul 03, 2024
with Ed McKervey : ed@portervillepost.com

UNALIENABLE RIGHTS © with Ed McKervey 1997 : THE PAPER BOY : Part V

The Paper Boy was great job for kids.

There were no drive by shootings, we all played outside in front of our houses or down at the park. We swam at Murray park pool. We rode our bikes or walked everywhere we went. The platform at the pool was deemed too dangerous but we all loved jumping off that platform, we still talk about it today. The freedom of those days reminds me today of the Stephen King short story “Stand by Me.”

• Life back then was about freedom and adventure - not safety and security.

I watched Mr. Smith goes to Washington last year it’s a classic American Tale. The impossible odds of one man trying to change the government and the tenacity and determination to do it despite the odds and the headwinds.

The kids were a central theme and much of the story is centered on the scout leader and the freedom loving kids who supported him. The scouts operated printing presses and delivered the news locally in support of their fearless scout leader and his crusade to do what was right. Kids that knew what the right thing was and worked to get it done diligently with no whining or crying.

Remember When We Thought The News Tried To Be Objective

Remember when we thought the news tried to be objective. The system worked because actually tried to be informed back before infotainment was born. The nightly news is tabloid now and really just about ratings. The print media is not much better. If people are not informed or engaged what do we expect to happen? It’s a great American tale that we can all relate to in some fashion as we watch the struggle of one man against a crooked system. It’s a timeless tale of the struggle of human nature and the powers and principalities we all face.

• The politics were about the same as today meaning congress was full of corruption.

The popular description of congress claims they are baboons but fact checkers deny this, obviously they are worse than baboons. The kids were involved in the printing press and they were the paper boys of that time supporting a regular guy taking on the establishment. They sold papers on street corners and shouted “Extra – Extra Read all about it!”

The whole idea of engagement for young folks is a great angle because kids are often idealists that think they can make a difference and are also foolish enough to try. “Adults” simply didn’t have the energy to engage the issues and are always more passive and trusting despite the terrible outcomes. Sound Familiar?

Those kids were go-getters and it’s a glimpse into the attitude required to be a paperboy.

The good old days were not as great as we make them out to be but the values of the past were traded for the material things of the future and it may not have been such a great trade off. Sure we don’t have to put film in camera’s anymore but we often take tons of pictures we seldom take the time to look at them or cherish a moment without trying to capture it. Yes if we could save time in a bottle we would, but we can’t. Great song and sentiment but often time’s moments are diminished while trying to capture them. Fleeting.

The culture was downstream of the church in those days, the honor and beauty of a life well lived with integrity, is certainly not what it used to be. Because of neutrality the church seems to be downstream of the culture nowadays.

• The culture now celebrates dishonor, ugliness and vice while it pretends to be inclusive.

The days of boy scouts helping old ladies cross the street are long gone. Film in camera’s only a memory. The corded phones only a faded memory along with all the pay phones we used to rely on. The idea that we trusted drinking water from a garden hose is a great nostalgic thought.

I will never forget the break dancing craze. As we rode around the neighborhood it was not uncommon to hear a boom box and see kids dancing in the front yard on some cardboard.

Most kids were latch key kids so you had some freedom in the afternoon before your parents got home. Kids would break dance, watch cartoons or work a paper route to earn some spending money. We always put off our homework.

Past generations were OG. When we were kids we were the “original green” always giving a hoot, to not pollute. Smokey the bear was there to warn us not to start forest fires and we fixed or repaired most things because you couldn’t afford new ones. Knee patches on your jeans were common and patching the holes in your bike tube was required. Even if there were a dozen holes we made those bike tubes last.

A Lot Of Us Kids Walked To School and or Rode Our Bikes

A lot of us kids walked to school and or rode our bikes. We didn’t have rides to school and we always preferred walking or riding bikes to riding the bus because we cherished freedom. When you were out of the house and you had a little money in your pocket you were a king. You could get a five cent coke over at Marshals the old sandwich shop with an old west bank vault in the back. Now we have a great restaurant downtown named for that old place which is really cool.

• We saved coffee cans, milk cartons, Popsicle sticks, clothes hangers and aluminum cans.

Remember those cool hats grandma made with your favorite brand cans sewn right into the hat? We made pot holders out of Popsicle sticks with some fishing line and beads. We used clothes pins and playing cards to make our bikes sound like motorcycles. Life was grand. This is what we did before cell phones.

• This is what we did before the official green recycling fads of today turned into earth worship.

Thrifty’s drug store down on main had the best ice cream. You can still get it at Rite Aid but back in the day you could get a single scoop for 15 cents and a tripe for 40 cents. Main Street was one way and back then it was illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk. No helmets but the police would get you so you had to ride fast in the opposite direction to get away from the patrolmen.

Riding past Stan’s restaurant and the Porter was a common travel route to Mill and Main. Grays chili dogs was right there and you could get candy at the old book store across the street. We had passbook savings at the Bank of Gibraltar across from Bob Fields Jewelers.

• Our parents always taught us to save money for a rainy day.

If it was after 4pm you could go around the corner to Poor Richards Pizza and hang out with your friends not all the money went into the bank. We learned self-reliance at an early age and the responsibility was not as burdensome as we though at the time. Space Invaders was hi-tech.

The confidence of having freedom and autonomy went hand in hand with some responsibility. That is how it was and how it should be, not so much today. We were part of a system we were part of a community, we were part of civilization. We didn’t need coddling or protection we could rely on most adults all around the community not only to protect us but to keep us in line. There were very few if any vagrant’s downtown wandering around. Freedom was never given to you. Freedom had to be earned or claimed you had to fight for it and the journey had meaning.

Freedom Was Never Given To You
Freedom had to be earned or claimed. You had to fight for it, and the journey had meaning

Vagrants and squatters were not allowed in public in past generations. I’m sure those vagrancy laws are still on the books but the nanny state says we have to be inclusive of vagrants. That wasn’t allowed when I was growing up and being intoxicated in public was a crime. Loitering and pan handling were also crimes. The police used to chase us on main if we rode our bikes on the sidewalk. Even J walking was enforced.

• Downtown was a safe place for kids and it had a great community feel to it.

We were part of something. While we are working hard to restore that today it is a big contrast from then to now. I miss the days when we could hang around downtown unmolested and protected by the powers that be making a few bucks selling papers.

We used to go down to Sandy’s arcade and spend a couple hours and a couple dollars with our friends. It felt like home and we almost never encountered vagrants and the place was clean. We could stare in the window at Western Auto at the cool go carts drooling or go into the 88 cents store and look for treasures. We were never worried about our safety. I think kids were tougher back then, they were raised that way it was a good way to grow up and be part of the town.

We didn’t care that it took years to find answers to life’s questions versus instant access to internet today. Door to door sales for Encyclopedias, Fuller brushes and Kirby vacuum cleaners turned into solar panels and ring cameras. The cookies and candy sales are still out there but not as much.

The days of selling newspapers on the corner are long gone. Jobs for kids like flipping burgers turned into jobs for adults.

Remember when we had the old paper vending machines and everyone was on their honor to only take 1? Things were built to last vs things being built to be thrown away today. So much for recycling we throw away more today than ever before and we think we are doing a good job sorting trash most of which really ends up in the landfill anyway. Waste has increased not decreased. Progress?

We used to go to the library a lot. I used to stare at that relief map upstairs trying to fathom the richness and vastness of the San Joaquin Valley. The biggest and richest valley in the world they used to say. When I got older I understood that the richest valley in the world was the traditional American values and the people that lived here.

• We are the poorest county in the state but we lived very well.

There was always something going on at the library and as an avid reader we even checked out books. Libraries have long been outmoded but we hang on to the premise that reading is essential to be informed. Do your own research.

I had a library card and the responsibility was important as I was part of the biggest lending library around. My brother and I learned Karate at the Library. There were always meetings and community events and that was also a thing I remember from my childhood.

That carried on for many many years and the stories and fond memories around our community are many. My kids still talk about the reptile show they saw at the library as it left an indelible mark on them. Made me think of the Reptile Man that used to go to all of the schools back in the 1970’s.

It Was A Wholesome Community Spirit

It was a wholesome community spirit. The spirit of family is still there but much has changed and it’s not so wholesome anymore with all of this new inclusion ideology. The internet at the library was eventually taken over by perverts searching porn which was a big letdown. It’s a shame we can’t call stupid, stupid anymore now that the culture wears its feelings on its sleeve and everything must be included.

• Kid’s jobs are now adult’s jobs and most of the kids sit home staring at screens.


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Part 1 • 08/16/23
Part 2 • 08/23/23
Part 3 • 08/30/23
Part 4 • 09/06/23
Part 5 • 09/13/23
Part 6 • 09/20/23
Part 7 • 09/27/23
Part 8 • 10/04/23
Part 9 • 10/11/23
Part 10 • 10/18/23
Part 11 • 10/25/23
Part 12 • 11/01/23
Part 13 • 11/08/23
Part 14 • 11/15/23
Part 15 • 11/22/23
Part 16 • 11/29/23
Part 17 • 12/06/23
Part 18 • 12/13/23
Part 19 • 12/20/23
Part 20 • 12/27/23


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