Lost Journal: Paperboys Wanted for Grand Theft Auto

By Tim Mollen

Journal entry:  February 17, 1985 (age 15)

Sunday is not a day of rest for a paperboy.  The Sunday Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin is three times heavier than the weekday edition.  The added content includes things like TV Week, with a cover photo of the cast of “St. Elsewhere” or “Remington Steele,” and an expanded comics section, where the bright colors turn Hagar the Horrible into Hagar the HILARIOUS!

The sheer weight of Sunday papers calls for vehicular assistance.  My brother, Dan, and I have typically filled this need by dragging a large, red wagon behind our bikes.  On most Sundays, Dan acts as wagon-dragger while I deliver papers along my Helen Street route.  Then I return the favor along his route, on and around Crary Avenue.  But this morning, there were 18 inches of freshly fallen snow on the ground.  Bikes and a wagon were not going to cut it.  Luckily, Dan was the man with the plan, as well as a learner’s permit from the DMV.  He knew he wasn’t supposed to be driving without supervision by a licensed driver, but he quickly convinced me that the quiet streets of dawn provide the perfect opportunity for practice.

The most glaring flaw in Dan’s plan was the fact that our garage is directly below my parents’ bedroom.  To extricate the 1981 Honda Civic within, we manually lifted the door at a “Shhh!”-filled rate of about one foot per minute.  Then we put the car in neutral and pushed it into the street.  Still nervous about waking Mom and Dad, Dan insisted that we continue pushing the car until we were half a block away from the house.

Finally, Dan turned the ignition key, and we slipped and slid our way up Highland Avenue to the home of our “paper lady,” Mrs. Gennarelli.  Her house is the distribution point where all the neighborhood news carriers pick up their bundles of papers.  As we sat on her porch, putting an insert into each of the papers, Dan bragged to the other kids about our heated, fast-moving delivery solution.  “Too bad you guys have to trudge through this stuff in the freezing cold.”

Nearby, from a figure mummified in Gore-Tex and wool, came the voice of a pioneering papergirl – our friend, Chris “Kitty” McKenna.  She coolly observed, “Yeah, Dan, but now you have to get the car back in the garage, close the garage door AND explain why there are tire tracks in the driveway when your family leaves for church.”  There was a long pause, followed by annoyed muttering from Dan.  “Shut up, Kitty…”

The car seemed slightly colder and slower as Dan and I traversed our routes.  By the time we got home, Dan had cooked up a solution:  We would simply shovel the driveway and all the sidewalks before Mom and Dad got up.  The fact that this additional work largely erased any benefit we had gained by driving was grimly obvious to both of us.  But the more pressing worry was the flimsiness of our story.  “Yes, Mom and Dad, we, your teenaged sons, decided to get up before dawn to do all the shoveling, so we could be sure we all made it to Mass.  Oh, and can we go to confession today?”

Tim Mollen
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