When I was twelve years old I had a paper route. I guess kids today will never know what that was like. But in those days, papers were delivered by young neighborhood boys. Looking back on the experience, I can kind of see why that’s changed now.
There was no end to the mischief that we wreaked on our paper routes, but the one thing that I still chuckle over was the toads.
It was the summer of ’69 and my route was for the morning paper. If you weren’t at the designated drop by 3:00 a.m. the route manager was on the phone calling you to see where you were. Several of us got our papers at the same corner and would sit on the curb and roll the papers with green rubber bands and fill a pair of canvas bags with a hole in the middle for your head.
By 3:30 you would generally be off, riding your bike and tossing the papers on the porches of the good subscribers. In the cool, dew soaked mornings of Arkansas, there are literally thousands of toads hopping all over the place – a temptation that few red-blooded boys can resist.
Toads have a million uses, which don’t always become immediately apparent, so you just pick them up when you have the opportunity and then they’re there when the need arises. As I would empty one side of my newspaper bag, I would fill it with toads.
My route encompassed about a six block long stretch of four streets and the intersecting streets in the grid, perhaps 180 subscribers in all. By the time I finished my route, one side of the canvas bags was a writhing, squirming mass of toads.
And, each day, the last house on my route had the windows of their car left open in the car port. I would dump the bag of toads through the window and giggle all the way home thinking about that guy getting in his car to go to work and seeing all those warty, piss-smelly toads hopping in the floorboards. I don’t guess he ever figured it out, because he never closed the windows or locked the doors.
But then again, maybe he had a use for the toads and was grateful. I still chortle a little when I think on it.