Friday, March 18, 2011

Knapsack 4-7-11

Twelve Years Old in Granville - 1959


Every time he swung around Mount Parnassus and zipped into the valley
over the bridge, Bobby felt just a little bit nervous.

Not so much the speed his Huffy bicycle could reach downhill, but
about the lady in the little brick house at the top of the slope on
the other side.

Mrs. Moody could be, well, moody. Or at least tart-tongued.

He knew that she wrote for the same newspaper that he delivered, and
she would make comments about how they worked for the same boss, but
a paperboy really never ran into anyone other than the circulation
manager, or the delivery truck guy if he was at his corner when the
bundle got dropped off.

His route was on the east side of the village, with another paperboy
on the west side, and a third out Burg Street. Recently, there had
been new houses going up beyond Clear Run, past Mrs. Moody's house,
all the way to Mrs. Sexton's farm with the big mansion behind the
polo field.

"Young man, this area along the road, beyond my house, used to be
called Centerville, did you know that?" Mrs. Moody had lots of
stories about how things used to be. He knew that Mrs. Sexton had
been a Jones, and there were Joneses back to the very first settlers
here, back to when Indians still camped along the streams and creeks.
Bobby found arrowheads and stone axeheads down along Raccoon Creek
and up in the Jones' fields, and she didn't mind as long as he showed
them to her before he took them home.

Mrs. Sexton always said, when he delivered the paper up to her big
house, to just call her "Sallie," which he never could do. He also
never could collect her subscription, at least not as regularly as
most of the rest of his paper route.

Wasn't that odd, that the richest person was the hardest to get money
from? Or maybe she isn't really all that rich anymore, his mother
would say as he counted up at the kitchen table of an evening. Which
seemed odd…weren't rich people always rich?

Anyhow, this was the last loop before heading home, Bobby thought as
he zoomed down into the valley like a jet fighter on a combat
mission. Pull up, cruise past Mrs. Moody, toss the paper up over the
picket fence onto her stoop like a guided missile, and then six more
customers until pedaling up Jones Road to the mansion, last delivery.
Sometimes Mrs. Sexton would wave him into the kitchen off the back,
and pour him a glass of milk, "from my own cows!" she'd always point
out. Then a leisurely ride home, and one more swoop across this
bridge before he was done for the day.

That's how yesterday was, and how tomorrow would probably be. Bobby
wondered if his son might deliver papers on this same route. Wouldn't
that be amazing? Some things changed, like those stories Mrs. Moody
kept telling him about old times, but then there was new stuff, like
hearing about how the Kraft Music Hall might be in color soon, now
that they had Perry Como. Mom and Dad seemed pretty happy about that.

Things would pretty much always be exactly the way they are, thought
Bobby. Except for the parts that will be different.

[As the father, in 2011, of a twelve year old about to turn thirteen,
I'd like to thank the readers of the Sentinel for bearing with me
through these twelve stories of "Twelve Years Old in Granville."]

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