The Paper Boy

June 3, 2021 at 8:45 p.m.
Suzanne in the front yard of her childhood home on Staten Island
Suzanne in the front yard of her childhood home on Staten Island

This Scene from Childhood is submitted by the creator of the Scenes from Childhood column!

“I delivered newspapers to that house,” I screeched in the quiet theater while watching the movie The Godfather.

In 1971, the big house on Longfellow Avenue, Staten Island, became famous. The movie production company built a high wall around the home, transforming it into the residence of The Godfather, Don Vito

Corleon, played by Marlon Brando. I couldn’t help reflect on the day in 1954 that I took over part of my brother’s paper route.

“Pleeze can I deliver some papers?” I pleaded.

My older brother, Rob, had a large paper route and I was dying to take some of his newspapers and deliver them myself. Rob caved in and gave me a “street” where I could deliver papers. Tips would be all mine. I was 10 at the time.

Longfellow Avenue was the next street over from our house. We could cut through a neighbor’s yard quickly, trying not to get caught, or we could ride our bikes down our street, turn right onto Ocean Terrace, a busy one, then turn right again to enter Longfellow Avenue. Two of my friends lived on this street, which made the paper delivery more fun. I delivered to twelve houses.

Tips varied. I recall usually receiving a quarter from each house, except for one big house, Don Vito Corleon’s future home, (at the time, the Palmas owned it), with a stone wall surrounding it. They gave a bigger tip, sometimes $1.

I delivered the papers like a young lady would. I parked my bike and walked up to the front door, placing the newspaper neatly on the welcome mat. If it rained, I tucked the paper under the mat with a bit sticking out so the homeowner would know his paper had arrived. Once in a while, I got brave and tried to hurl one from my bike to see how close I could come to the front door. If the paper landed in the bushes, I retrieved it and placed it carefully on the mat. If the paper hit the front door, I quickly peddled away for fear the “thud” would disturb the homeowner. Sometimes, I hadn’t folded it correctly and the paper flew apart midair with sections fluttering down in different places. I immediately hustled to put the paper together and make it look like it was never opened.

As I became more accomplished, the fun game was to see how close I could fling the tightly folded paper to its intended mark.

Once a month, during money-collecting time, I rang the doorbell to a surprised greeting, “It’s a girl paper boy.”

I don’t exactly join the ranks of other famous paper boys: Walt Disney, Bob Hope or Ed Sullivan…but also don’t see many girl paper boys on that list who delivered papers to The Godfather’s residence.

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