Newspaper Birds

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By Jerry Lambert

One morning around 5:30 a.m., I heard a particularly loud bird singing his brains out. It wouldn’t be notable if all of our windows weren’t closed. However, we were in the middle of an early summer heat wave and our house had been closed up tight for days. I was instantly taken back to my time as a Detroit News paperboy. Even though I was up before dawn on Saturday and Sunday mornings, I always kind of liked it. It was just me and the morning songbirds, while the rest of the neighborhood was still fast asleep. I pictured myself as an early morning Santa Claus, with a bag full of newspapers instead of toys.

When we moved to St. Clair Shores, my younger brother got a paper route with the Detroit Free Press. Unlike the News, the Free Press was a morning paper. This would mean that at least twice per winter, I would be rudely awoken from a dream about Charlie’s Angels because my brother was “Too Sick” to do his route. Uh huh. Curiously, this “Illness” always seemed to coincide with a temperature of about 15 degrees, and a stiff breeze blowing in off Lake St. Clair. Trying to decipher his address list, by the light of a cold moon, had me longing for my old paper route in Detroit.

However, the News had its own unique brand of fun. It had monstrously large editions on Wednesdays and Sundays. Trying to get all of those papers precariously balanced on my bike’s bullhorns and saddlebags was a job worthy of a structural engineer. Throw some rain or snow into the mix and things got really interesting. However, after a couple of hours of paper delivery on Sunday morning, I would treat myself to a couple of donuts and a chocolate milk from the local bakery. After a hard morning’s work, biting into a delicious jelly-filled donut would result in a sigh of delight. I had a little money in my pocket and life was good. Sing me home songbirds, maybe I can catch a nap before church.

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