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Sharing one brief moment of nostalgia

Fifty years ago, the News-Register was dated Wednesday-Sunday. One issue was produced on Friday, delivered on Saturday and dated Sunday — don’t ask me why.

Delivery later changed to Wednesday/Friday, then Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Next came Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, then Wednesday/Saturday, back to Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday and, in recent years, Wednesday/Saturday.

In that context, our upcoming change to Tuesday-Friday delivery is ordinary stuff. But the change from youth carriers to U.S. mail delivery is a big deal. By “big,” I mean the regrettable end of an era, and no one knows that better than this former newspaper boy.

I started delivering the N-R several months before reaching the mandatory minimum age of 9. At first, it was close to home near the 12th Street tennis courts, but over time my horizons expanded. I still remember blowing a tire and stashing my bike in the ditch along Second Street, walking the remainder of my route to what then was the end of Fleishauer Lane, getting bit ten by a tail-wagging dog, and ending the day by slamming the car door shut on my finger when my dad drove me back for the bicycle.

I also delivered The Oregonian. Every morning began with a paper-folding competition among “the big boys” at the downtown paper shack and ended with a maple bar at Atlas Bakery. Evenings involved door-to-door collections, and my cut of the pie was an early lesson about work and rewards.

Dean Klaus called this week to commiserate with us about the loss of opportunity for young boys and girls to become young entrepreneurs. He proposed a group photo of all the former N-R carriers who might show up, as a reminder of what the newspaper route experience meant to so many.

We’re going to do just that on Saturday, Oct. 27. The invitation extends to past and present adult motor route carriers, whose services to us and their customers have been exceptional for so many years. We’ll call it “Last Saturday” in honor of that last morning delivery day for the current group of carriers. Watch for details.

Business is business, some say. Most people seem to understand the economic reasons for this change, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It takes an old paperboy — or a longtime subscriber — to appreciate the likelihood that Americana illustrator Norman Rockwell is doing one more turn in his Massachusetts grave.

Pardon us while we share a brief moment of nostalgia before moving on.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news or 503-687-1223.

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