1 - CopyI remember hot summer days when I was about 15 waiting for Dad to come home from work. His time of arrival never varied….5.30p was dinnertime and newspapers were delivered into the boxes at the entrance of our neighbourhood shortly before he arrived.   At about 5.15p, I’d go outside, walk to the side of the street, get set into “proper” race starting position, and run down the small paved hill 100 years from our house to the neighbourhood entrance where the newspaper boxes were located.   If Dad hadn’t pulled in by then, I’d run back up the hill, get set, and race the 100 yards back to the paper boxes again.   Over and over I’d run imagining myself the premiere track star of the world until Dad’s car would make the turn at the entrance.   Sometimes, when cars were pulling out of our neighbourhood, I’d “race” them trying to beat them to the entrance where they’d pull out onto the highway. On one most confusing day, while “racing” a car down to the paper boxes, the driver shouted out his window to me as he pulled out onto the highway, “Fancy motor you’ve got there!”   (I’m still not sure what that means!)

When Dad finally pulled in, I’d grab the newspaper out of our box, hop in the passenger seat, and have him all to myself for the 15 seconds it took to drive to our home from the paper boxes. Later, as I neared onto 16, Dad would leave the car running, get out, walk around to the other side of the car, pick up his newspaper from the box, get in the passenger seat, and let me drive the car the 100 yards from the entrance of our neighbourhood, up the hill, and into our driveway.   I felt very “adult” and important. I had graduated from the days when he would sit me on his lap and let me steer to this…100 yards in the driver’s seat. Exciting!

My dad is a newspaper junkie.   For as long as I can remember, he would spend the time after work and dinner sitting in his chair reading his newspaper from front to back and back to front until he went to bed for the night.   It was annoying when one of us tried to get his attention because he could never really be torn away from his paper.   Sometimes, he even fell asleep in his chair still holding the pages of his paper open!   Am sure you can see why I was anxiously running to the paper boxes wanting to get to him and commandeer his attention before he got to the newspaper.    

On Sundays, it was worse! The SUNDAY PAPER was huge and took all day to read. He sat in his chair after church and dinner out and perused the SUNDAY PAPER from end to end only ever looking up to see a Steeler touchdown or a homerun from the Pirates game on TV that day. But even that’s not the worst of it….my dad, ever the practical, one year even wrapped his Christmas gifts to my mom in newspaper! Now that is a real newspaper junkie!

I remember when I began reading sections of the paper myself. I started small with comics and the like, but eventually Dad began pointing out a new teen column or a story on one of my interests thereby slowly indoctrinating me to THE NEWSPAPER.   I felt very important to realize I was thought of at all in his otherwise solitary world, though I did still view THE NEWSPAPER resentfully as an adversary for his attention.

It’s almost funny how competitive I’ve always felt with THE NEWSPAPER and how much of me has learned to adapt around THE NEWSPAPER to get to my dad. I even know conversation with him needs to happen as he comes into the kitchen to refill his iced tea glass, answer the phone, or eat lunch when Mom has it ready.    Suffice it to say, when I got married, we didn’t sign on for a newspaper delivery!

Even my sons recognize Dad’s obsession with his paper commenting on how he religiously reads in his chair.   They find it more humourous than I ever did.   As they’ve grown up, they’ve been very close with my dad and from time to time he’d clip out a little comic he found amusing or a story that reminded him of something they did and post it to them or hand it to them in person if he knew he’d see them soon.  

These days, the paper boxes at the neighbourhood entrance have been separated and moved in front of houses to save cars from stopping at the entrance.   But even now, every time I go home, I know I can count on a stack of newspapers being on the table next to Dad’s chair in the living room and him not being too far away.  Some things never change.

It took me a long time to understand that sometimes the headlines don’t tell the real story. It took me a while to figure out how to read between the lines. What I had always seen as a barrier in the way of my dad’s attention to me has now become both a hallmark and a gateway in my mind. Once I realized what I was dealing with – the typical 1950’s mentality where men do not openly express emotions – I began to see that small clippings sent in the post, an article saved to share in person, a comic cut out with a comment penned in, and/or directing our attention to an article of interest were actually visible and tangible signs that demonstrated quite clearly that Dad has been paying more attention than we ever knew.  



(photo credit: Getty Images) I borrowed from Google Image Search



  1. Sasha says:

    Wow, your writing here is incredible. I was captivated by each word. I love the way you chose to see the good in the story–your perspective so beautiful. I loved reading your story!


  2. Such a great story about your dad. Newspapers figure prominently in my childhood memories too including tying up the used ones to take to the scout hall for recycling. Dad’s eyesight is failing now and I suggested he get a digital subscription so he could read it with larger print on the tablet but he wouldn’t have a bar of it.


    • Boy, you are a brave soul trying to get your dad to go digital. My parents have a desktop computer and all I can say is THANK GOD FOR TEAMVIEWER. I feel like tech support for seniors most days!

      I was actually very surprised this prompt had so many memories for so many people. Will tell you though that the funniest one in the class yesterday was one lady who talked about the plastic that newspapers are wrapped in when they are delivered. She kept referring to it as a condom! Had the entire class in stitches! Too funny. I am constantly surprised by my little group here….but I think she surprised everyone with that recall.


  3. Wonderfully written and reflectively insightful – I’m wondering whether your Dad reads your blogs too and enjoys the observations and memories. It’s amazing how things are changing ever more to electronic versions and yet, I love the Sunday Papers and having a good old muse through 🙂


    • Hah! No, I haven’t “invited” him to my blog as of yet. I do send my writings onto Mom (who usually shares them with Dad) before class each week, but am sure you can relate when I say that as we’re in the middle of a major relocation from rental to rental and selling a home in the middle of all this, I didn’t have time to share this with them this week. I was also a little unsure how they might take it if you know what I mean. One of the people in my club felt right away that I really didn’t like the subject matter (newspapers) and that kind of made me think perhaps no one understood that in the end I came to understand that Dad was still paying attention contrary to how things looked for a long time. Anyway, I so appreciate your comment(s) and agree totally that while books can go electronic and even a magazine can be okay electronically, there is nothing like a big old Sunday paper spread out everywhere to peruse on a lazy Sunday afternoon at home!


  4. I love that. You had me feeling like I was running as long beside you to get the paper, and that’s some feat considering I have a gammy leg.
    My Grand loved his paper, his ritual being to walk down and get it. The only bit I liked was the scandal mag that came with the Sunday ones lol


  5. What a beautifully told tale, and one spanning a good chunk of time. I love stories that show lessons learned and life realized. You did a magnificent job–and I hope this story is shared with him. Since he’s a man of letters, I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be easily captivated, and probably quite proud!


    • Wow! I thank you so much for this. I hadn’t shared this one with him (or Mom) yet because I wasn’t sure how they’d take to it. I was very unsure because I did mention it wasn’t always a pleasant association for me. I appreciate your comment and letting me know it’s one to share!


  6. It’s only later in life that we see things differently. I’d written about the day my father died and while I was writing it I realized many things about him. And me. And my relationship with him. And all that I learned without understanding, appreciating or even knowing that I had learned something.

    You write with the same sensitivity with which you take photographs. I have no choice but to follow your blog now!


    • Oh, has ever a finer compliment been given?! Thank you, so much. I am so honoured with your words I can’t even tell you. I look forward to having you on board and just as soon as I get done with this post about the NF adventure, I’m going to pop over and have a proper look at your blog! Thank you again!


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