My Anchorage
Newspaper Route

by Michael R Dougherty

Newspaper Boy

Newspaper Boy

Remember being in downtown Anchorage and hearing the paper boys singing "get your Anchorage Times newspaper. Get your Anchorage Times newspaper."

As a young boy, I always thought it was fun to watch those guys as they stood on the sidewalk next to the Visitor's Log Cabin singing that phrase and selling their papers to people walking by.

Then, in the Summer of 1961 -

I was 14 at the time, and along with my 12 year old brother Tom, we agreed to help a friend who was going out of town for the summer. Our friend had a huge newspaper route. He delivered the Anchorage Times in the area of town near Debarr road and Bragaw street.

Back in those days, newspaper carriers would deliver papers on foot or on a bike (summer only), wearing a 2 pouch canvas rig that rested over their shoulders, kind of like a saddle bag for human boys.

Sorry ladies, but back in those days we were called "newspaper boys."

Every afternoon a truck would drop off a stack of newspapers in front of the newspaper boy's house and the fun would begin.

First you had to pack the newspapers in both pouches of the saddle bag, then you lifted up the saddle bag and stuck your head through the hole between the pouches and rested the whole thing on your shoulders. One pouch was in front and one was over your back. Then you started walking your route and delivering newspapers to your eager customers.

Because our friend's route was so big, my brother took one section and I took the biggest section.

Now you've no doubt seen movies where they show a newspaper boy on a bicycle, throwing newspapers onto people's yards and the dude making the deliveries is some young kid who flings the paper as hard as he can, then high wheels his bike and rides off as fast as he can. Of course the newspaper ended up in the bushes or all over the lawn.

But in real life, paper boys had to learn how to fold newspapers so they could throw the paper without having the delivery come apart in mid-air resulting in a customer's paper scattered all over the yard. Although that still happened.

When my brother and I were delivering Anchorage Times newspapers, we had to learn where every customer wanted us to leave their paper. Some wanted their paper on the porch, unless it was raining. Some wanted the paper between their front screen door and their regular door. Some even wanted us to knock on the door so they would know their paper had arrived.

The dog problem -

Newspaper delivery boys had to put up with bratty kids and mean dogs. The bratty kids would wait until you were walking away, then they would tear up the paper and tell their parents you did it. That would cause their parents to yell at you the next day, and/or not give you a tip when they paid their bill. Bummer.

Mean dogs were another problem - sometimes a painful one.

Some customers were kind enough to put their dog in the back yard just before newspaper delivery time, and some did not. One customer had a dog that would immediately sink it's teeth into my pant leg and hang on the entire time I was in their yard. Sometimes the flesh of my leg was caught in the dog's teeth. One day when the dog attacked me, I gave him a swift kick. The dog never bothered me again.

The Goose Lake sunburn

One sunny day I decided to spend some time at Goose Lake, working on my tan. I ended up spending way too much time on my stomach and ended up frying my shoulders and my back.

That afternoon when it was time to put my newspaper saddle bag over my shoulders, I experienced a new kind of pain. It hurt to walk, bend over or even breath too deeply. I was never so glad to deliver my last newspaper.

I saved the money I made that summer and used it to buy a Sears Moped.

Caught you dude -

Years later, my wife Mary and I and our very young daughter Nikki were living in a basement apartment of Malibu road in Anchorage. Our newspaper delivery boy had a very bad habit of flinging our paper all over the stairs leading down to our front door.

One afternoon I opened the door and looked out, just in time to see the little creep throw our paper into the air. I stood there watching it's pages land all over the stairs as the dude just looked at me as if to say "oops."

Quickly recalling my days as an Anchorage paperboy, I gave him a short but stern warning. After that, our paper was always placed properly in front of our door.

Did you have an Anchorage paper route?

What are your memories?

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Newspaper Route

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Moose and Dog Dodging
by: Anonymous

About the time you and your brother Tom had a Times route, I had a News route out in Muldoon.

The News was an afternoon paper at that time. Lots of dogs, and twice I got charged by a moose!

Adventures of a Papergirl
by: Anonymous

My sister and I had a morning paper route in the Alaska Village Trailer Court in the early 70’s.

It was a lot of work, but quite nice to take a walk or a bike ride every day and get paid for it.

I always had pocket money.

In the summer after delivering the paper to the owner of the greenhouse across Muldoon, I would ride my bike south right up the middle of Muldoon Road, up the hill by the gas station, turn around and then speed down the hill pumping hard to go as fast as I could, then coasted, turning left onto DeBarr and then left into the trailer court.

It was an exhilarating ride.

About the only traffic at 5 in the morning was the police car that patrolled our area, and he just grinned and waved.

Good times.

Turnagain Times Paperboy
by: Anonymous

As a Times paperboy in Turnagain, I was not allowed to throw the paper - but the Daily News paperboy did that.

I tried using my bike a couple of times, but that took more time than just walking the route.

I had to put the paper in the red metal Times paper tube or I had to put it between the front door and the screen door.

My goal was to buy a Sears Moped for $179. I never met that goal - my take home pay was about $30 each month.

News Route
by: Anonymous

I had a News route back in the day when the ADN was an afternoon/evening paper.

It was out in the Muldoon area. Lots of dogs, and an occasional moose. This was well before Howard Weaver worked for the ADN!

Delivering the Anchorage Times
by: Bill McFarland

This brings back a lot of memories.

My route was in the Martin Arms apartments on 3rd Avenue. I had the route from 1962 through 1965.

206 apartments and my mom was the manager. Rent your apartment and start the newspaper. I was told it was one of the bigger routes in the city then.

The bundles were delivered to the office and I would fill the old, ink infused red double bag. If the papers were big, it was hard to get the bag over your head.

The buildings had 8 apartments in two stories. One entrance for every two apartments. All I had to do was drop the papers in the entrances at each door. What a deal!

I don't recall missing many days other than for the Earthquake.

Why Can't They Read it on the Roof?
by: Vikki Vega

Delivered bundles for the Anchorage Times, and walking and motor routes for the Daily News.

On walking route, encountered moose with twin calves in the dark, got yanked off my feet by my German Shepard. I was walking towards the front door with the paper. She saw a cat and ran full bore to the end of her 8' leather leash at a 45 degree angle. I staggered backwards, got my feet knocked out from under me by a low brick planter, and plowed a furlough in the dirt with my butt. Glasses went flying, papers everywhere. Not a great way to spend 6am.

Had a three story apartment building with snagged roof lines.

I either had to aim perfectly or walk three fights of stairs to make sure the paper hit the front door landing. Left quite a few on the roof.

by: Anonymous

My brother and I delivered papers between 22nd and 18th streets and Arctic Blvd and C st.

I had the biggest route. Sometimes papers were so thick we would have to make double trips. Was that ever a haul. And by the time we got done, then we had to go out and collect from our customers.

Sometimes people were not home for days or you just never caught them when they were home. Then we had to pay the newspaper.

We got fired from our route as we would go out and collect ahead so we had cash, then when it came to really collect we didn't have enough, so the Anchorage Daily Times fired us and both my brother and I didn't leave the house for quite awhile.

Lesson Well Learned

Paper Route Memory
by: Anonymous

I had a paper route over by Chester Valley Elementary as a kid.

At one point I had close to 300 papers to deliver.

You mentioning those bags brought back so many memories. Once you finished one side and flipped the bag to the other side, my neck would hurt... duh... I learned to leave a few papers on one side then flip the bag.

I didn't have a dog or kid problem, just moose. I was always on the look out for moose, even when I went to collect.

But always in the winter when it was quiet and the Northern lights were crackling, that was the most awesome thing and memory.

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