Stan Crader

Author & Lecturer on Writing About Rural America

Why “Paperboy?”

This book was written because the story had to be told.  What is the story that had to be told? Glad you asked.

I consider growing up in rural America to be a blessing. Few things compare to the freedom to ride a bicycle anywhere in town, speak to everyone, know practically every person, and do all of this without fear of anything. With that freedom came responsibility and accountability. Do something unacceptable and the word spread quickly. Fall on bad times and help arrives instantly. My memories of my paperboy days are good ones. While writing Paperboy I have come across many former paperboys (and one paper girl) who also have fond memories of the days when they rushed home from school, grabbed a shoulder bag and delivered the afternoon paper—rain or shine. 

Although I can now read my daily paper online, I still enjoy holding the paper and turning it’s pages. The delivery of newspapers may soon be a thing of the past. And that’s too bad.

Back in the day when the paper was delivered by pre-pubescent boys, communication was different. News was really new. If you wanted to know what was going on in the community—you just asked the paperboy. The paperboy saw inside more houses and businesses than anyone else. He got invited into homes where even the preachers weren’t welcome. Seeing is believing and paperboys saw it all. Believe me.

Older folks who hadn’t had company for a spell took advantage of a fresh set of ears and were difficult to get away from. They frequently plopped onto the virtual psychiatrist couch, got into full disclosure mode and literally followed me out the door, to the edge of their lawn, lamenting health, religious, civic, and political concerns.

Ladies sitting under the hair dryer at the beauty salon carried on oblivious to the young perky ears of the paperboy. Men at the filling stations continued with their colorful language regardless of the presence of a curious adolescent paperboy. The crusty old men who frequented the courthouse bench, and had lost their social filters, revealed more about life than could be understood at the time by the boy handing them their daily newspaper.

The most incredible aspect of being a paperboy was learning that everyone has an untold story. Paperboys get to know the people of the town they serve like nobody else can. Those who have been a paperboy know what I mean. Those who haven’t will need to read Paperboy.

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