Paper Route

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“Paper Route,” Friend, Oct. 1999, 16


Paper Route

Though a boy I may appear, Yet a man I soon will be. … So I now prepare myself; I will serve my fellowmen. (Children’s Songbook, pages 166–167.)

On Wednesday afternoons I have a very special job. I bag fifteen newspapers in plastic bags, load them into my red wagon, then go up the street to deliver newspapers and to check on my neighbors.

My first stop is always the Baxters’ house. Every spring a robin builds a nest in the tree by their front door. After the eggs have hatched, I always carefully lay the newspaper on their front steps so that I don’t scare the baby birds.

The next house is Mrs. Kirkham’s. She loves flowers. When I leave her paper, I like to count and see how many tulips have bloomed. One summer she gave me a pink rose to take home to my mother. I carried it straight home so that it wouldn’t get squashed in the wagon.

The Statlers, who live up the block, are gone most of the summer, visiting their grandchildren. I don’t deliver a paper when they’re gone, but once I had to chase a stray cat away from their birdbath.

When it’s really hot, Peg Jackson and her baby, Ryan, wait for me with a glass of ice-cold lemonade. I know I’m half done with my route when I get to their house, so I sit in the shade on their front porch to rest for a minute.

At the end of the street, I cross carefully over to the house with the white picket fence. Mr. Weber lives there. He’s pretty old, but he usually shuffles out to the sidewalk when he sees me coming. Sometimes he “trades” me something for the newspaper. Once he gave me a sackful of zucchini from his garden. Mom made it into bread, and I took a loaf back to him. He said that that was a good deal.

My next favorite place is the Morris’s big house. Mrs. Morris is an art teacher, and in October they have fantastic jack-o’-lanterns on their front steps. Sometimes they have scary monster faces or scenes from fairy tales carved into them. They’re amazing!

There’s a small creek in the trees by the Changs’ house. When the water starts getting ice on the edges, I know that soon I’ll be using my sled instead of my red wagon to haul papers. When the creek is frozen solid, the Changs let me pull my sled right across it so that I can get out of the cold quicker.

When I get home, I always have a treat. Do you know what I like best when I’m cold? Hot chocolate. First it warms my hands and my face, and then it warms me inside.

After paying my tithing, most of the money I earn for delivering papers goes into my missionary savings fund. Mom says that my paper route is preparing me to be a missionary in other ways, too. I’m learning to be a good walker in all kinds of weather, and I’m learning to really care about people and to serve them. I think that’s a pretty good deal for Wednesday afternoons. Don’t you?

Illustrated by Doug Roy