Former Denver paperboys share tells of their routes,

In the late 1970s, Marty Lavine rode his bicycle around Denver’s Platt Park neighborhood, chucking copies of The Denver Post with one hand and balancing with the other. Today, the 56-year-old still opts to bike the streets of the Mile High City on his way to work at his business, PUSH Gym.

Lavine’s job as a Denver Post paperboy is a relic of the 20th century that’s virtually extinct today. Newsies, or newsboys who distributed papers, date back to at least 1833, according to nonprofit The Poynter Institute. But as newspaper print circulation began to decline and circulation departments expanded routes that required cars rather than bicycles, paperboys became “just a whole thing of the past,” Lavine said. “It was just the natural progression, I guess.”

The Denver Post switched from an afternoon to a morning paper in the fall of 1982, with the paperboy era ending in 1988, said home delivery field manager John Doody.

There’s affection in Lavine’s voice when he reminisces on his first job, following in the footsteps of his older brother to throw newspapers intermittently from ages 11 to 13. On weekdays after school, he would meet at his station to pick up a bundle of the afternoon papers, fold and load them on his bike.

From there, he’d take off on his route through District 20, recalling that his first one — route 15 — went around his block.

Weekends meant early morning wakeup calls for the teenagers, but “it’d be great because we’d all meet up at Winchell’s and eat doughnuts together,” Lavine said.

His gig earned him money for baseball cards and candy, but also friends that he keeps in touch with to this day. He remembers rubber band fights at the paper station, which often buzzed with middle school chatter and cussing. Kids would chew tobacco and compare their bikes.

“If it was snowing, we’d be in the alley, having snowball fights,” Lavine said.

His biggest accomplishment as a paperboy: Winning the annual contest for a trip to Disneyland. “I had never been anywhere really,” Lavine said. “It was a great experience. I’ll never forget it.”

Just a few years after he stopped throwing for The Denver Post, the job began to phase out, and was soon replaced by adults driving the routes.

“I think they realized it wasn’t good having all these kids roaming around,” Lavine said. “We caused probably a lot more havoc than I can tell you,” pointing to instances of tipped trashcans and fireworks lit in alleys.

He never forgot the newspaper of his roots. In college, Lavine and his buddies subscribed for home delivery. “It was my newspaper. That’s all I read.”

Now, Lavine’s married, with two daughters. He raised them in the same neighborhood as his old paper route. His early love of fitness led to an exercise sciences degree, which resulted in a career in physical therapy — and, eventually, the opening of PUSH Gym at 38 E. 5th Ave. in Denver.

Life gets busy, but, if Lavine had it his way, “I would open a Denver Post up every morning, and have a cup of coffee and a doughnut, and sit and read it front to back.”

“The most fun I ever had”

Starting in seventh grade, Craig Branch also worked as a Denver Post paperboy for around two years. On his route, which took him by his house in southeast Denver, Branch would try to land papers on subscribers’ porches — and accidentally dented a few screen doors in the process.

“Only a few people ever got mad because they all appreciated me getting the paper up to the porch,” Branch, 56, said. “The sound of it and everything made me chuckle.”

He recalled goofing around with the other kids as they waited for papers on weekend mornings. The station opened at 3 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and the trucks, which “would take them hot off the press,” often ran late. “Remarkably, we all got along pretty good.”

Several girls were among the ranks of the paperboys, with one serving as the head carrier with the key to the station. She “was a good choice” for that responsibility, he added.

Sunday presented an added challenge for him, with the size of the copies weighing down his bike. But to avoid riding back to the station, “I’d do everything to pack them all in” — a total of around 80 papers, Branch said.

Once, he fell on his route. The papers, wedged snugly in the bags, stayed in place, but Branch couldn’t lift his bike up until another paperboy came to the rescue.

After his Denver Post gig, he took a job as a cook at Mr. Steak, then bought a car and delivered pizzas. Now, he’s in software development, residing northwest of Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife.

Given the risks of today’s world, Branch doesn’t think he’d let his son be a paperboy, but “during my adolescent years, it was the most fun I ever had.”

He still reads The Denver Post online, and his mom gets the paper. “When I visit her, she’ll have it laying on the kitchen table, and I’ll sit down and go through it.”

Gary Baughn, a 56-year-old Denver native, delivered for the Rocky Mountain News in the late 1970s. “At the time, it was, you either got the News or you got The Post,” he said.

The Rocky Mountain News, which eventually shuttered in 2009, ran in the morning — a pain for a “little teenager getting up at 4 a.m.”

His mom would wake him up, as his dad, who worked at Samsonite, prepared for the day. A carrier would drop bales of papers off at Baughn’s house on South Pearl Street, which he would fold, wrap with rubber bands, load on his bike and deliver.

If the bike broke down or a tire flattened, his mom would drive the station wagon while he tossed papers. “That’s the thing about being a paperboy — it was every single day,” Baughn said. “Then, you’ve gotta go out in the rain and snow.”

He delivered for three to four months in the winter, then moved on to work at Star Market.

Baughn lives in Denver today. When asked if he has fond memories of his paperboy gig, he said laughingly, “That particular job? No.”

But he treasures his group of “South Denver paperboys” — and “the fact that we’re all still friends. I mean, we’re like close friends still, to this day.”

“It’s just the way we grew up,” Baughn said.

Source: Read Full Article