grape soda & paper route

A huffy three-speed with fenders
is heavier climbing uphill
with saddlebags full of newspapers,
all of which will be placed gently
between the screen door and the inside door,
not tossed on the porch
or the front lawn or the hedges,

and it’s heavier still when attempting
to collect the weekly dues
for the newspaper subscriptions
all of which adds up after weeks
of not answering the door or come back next week
or giving the papergirl cookies
and a wink instead of cash,

but that bike’s sure as hell heavy enough
to practically take flight
after pedaling out to the nursing home,
wiping out face-first in the gravel pit,
sweating and wiping and smearing ink grime,
whipping down the hill to the Gulf station
for a six a.m. cold Nehi Grape from the soda machine.


  1. Very neat! I had that very bike and used it to go to the swimming hole! Great build up of the relationship among job/transport/treat.

  2. Oh, I love this! I can picture it so clearly.

  3. A job, a visit to Grandma and the freedom to head to the convenience store and buy your own soda pop = Successful life preparation. Well told, Marian.

  4. how cool that you read this that way, Kim. i was delivering newspapers to the nursing home!
    though that did involve a fair amount of visiting, when i had to go and collect the subscription dues.

  5. Ooh, I love this, Marian... How it tells a story, and in so doing, reflects of a life of many uphills and few rewards. No wonder grape soda tastes so good!

  6. Oh, I am familiar with those Huffy bikes! They are heavy indeed. Heavier still carrying newspapers. But wiping OUT while on a Huffy must have been a very painful experience!

    1. wiping out on gravel! but it only happened once. :)

  7. The second stanza is my favorite, especially the first three lines.

  8. This is marvelous, and true-to-life (I spent time as head paperboy, much later in life) yet its visual nature and wonderful pacing elevates above the everyday; this bicycle indeed does take flight.

  9. That nursing home detail really got to me...stories untold! Great read...took me back to another era.

  10. The joys of youth. Wonderful episode well told Marian! Youthful jobs are all fun cycling trips. Topped with the bottle of soda as a reward at the end is a typical picture. Thanks for sharing!


  11. I remember Huffies. Do they still make them? I don't think they let kids do paper routes here any more. Too bad as I think it was a good first job for so many. Well written piece!

    1. yeah, our paper is delivered by an adult in a car who hurls it at our door. boo.

  12. I always wanted a 3-speed when I was young, but my bike had only one speed, and that was slow. Downhill, however, was another story, and I loved it.
    Lots of memories here, Marian. I could feel the pain of that wipeout.

  13. thanks, friends! this poem started with the memory of Nehi Grape. :)
    Nehi PEACH was also fantastically delicious, but you could never get that in a soda machine, you had to find it at a store.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts!