when dope was dope
The din of prepubescent exuberance pealed through the neighborhood signaling to all that the prisoners had been released. No more classes. No more homework. No more Mr. Gemmel. We were indeed truly free.
I broke the world record as I pedaled home that day. How could I not have? My tank was full of highly explosive and lethal super-duper rocket fuel made from a mixture of 2 free tickets to Playland (courtesy of the school board), a stellar report card (recommending a pass from grade 6 to 7), and a massive dollop of anticipation (I was to start my paper route the next day). By the way, that rocket fuel, I'm pretty sure, was the very same super-duper concoction that sent Neil Armstrong to the moon almost two years to the day later; although I suspect he used a different recipe.
Anyway, the night before, the newspaper's district manager, Mr. Gibson, phoned to say that Phillip Major was moving. His paper route would be available and if I was still interested I could have it but would have to start in two days. Oh my! So soon? One had to be twelve years old to deliver papers. I was only eleven but my mother, reluctantly complicit in the deception, gave her blessing. After all, I would be twelve soon enough, it was for a good cause, and I had already subbed for Brian Simonson on occasion with neither scrutiny nor incident.
In the newspaper delivery business, the most sought-after routes were those consisting of a large number of papers over a few blocks. Phillip Major's route was not one of these. Route 11 was, in fact, the complete opposite. Route 11 by all accounts was the worst in the district. Fifty papers over seven blocks. Simonson's route, by contrast, was ninety papers over three blocks. Route 11 sucked. But, I'd do it.
It was the Summer Of Love. As I carried the headlines door to door, sweet scents of weed and patchouli wafted unrestrained through doors and windows. The songs of the day were the anthems of the generation. Flower power was fueling a revolution. Martin had a dream and Bobby spoke of hope. Fathers and sons and brothers were soon to return. The medium was the message and I was the messenger.
Route 11's fifty papers were a heavy load. That was then. I'm not so sure it would be any lighter today.