Between 1938 and 1942, my Free Press paper route was on Spence Street from Portage Avenue to the river. It was Route No. 193, with 80 papers.
The papers were thin. You could get all of them into one paper carrier's bag, but on Saturdays, the papers filled two bags.
In the '30s, I lived on Simcoe Street, so I passed Gooch's Bicycle and Hobby Shop daily on my way home. They had a really neat new bicycle in the window. I had a really old bicycle and wanted one just like the one in the window!
Finally, I went in and asked how much it would cost. Mr. Gooch said, "It's $30."
"If I give you $2 every Saturday, how long before I can get it?" I asked.
He said, "You can get it in 15 Saturdays. I'll put it away for you."
That was a very special day for me when I came home with my fancy new bicycle!
The highlight of my paper-carrier career came when it finished in October 1942. If you had perfect service (no complaints), you could earn a gold watch. That was 70 years ago, and I still have my watch tucked away. I wind it a little, and it still ticks.
My wife, Deb, and I had three sons, Grant, Ray and Paul. Each of our sons delivered the Free Press on Spruce Street and part of Valour Road. I am proud to say that they each received either a watch or a new bicycle for perfect service in 1964, 1967 and 1969.
I continued as a Free Press employee in several positions throughout the company from 1944 to 1990. It was a great company to work for and I enjoyed my whole career there.
We still take the Free Press and enjoy it daily.
-- Alex Ritchie