The summer before my ninth school year started, I had morning and evening paper routes that earned me about nineteen dollars a week. Not too shabby for a kid back in the early 1960s. After giving my mom ten for board, I had a decent sum of cash to buy clothes and other things, like a three-speed bicycle.
Delivering newspapers was a boring job except on one eye-opening occasion; my first flasher was stupendous. I saw women in Playboy as nice, but I have never seen any better. That woman's marvelous display was her first and only tip for me. At all times, she had left a quarter outside her door - the price of the Sunday Providence Journal. That morning I had to knock on her door to collect. Whatta tip! Certainly better than a dime or even a quarter gratuity.
That gorgeous young woman had on a transparent negligee - nothing else. That natural blonde with fantastic breasts had to be half asleep at 7 AM or finally rewarding me for my delivery service. Her spectacular display made my week. A tip to reminisce about later.
At the end of the following summer, a few months prior to my sixteenth birthday, I quit delivering evening papers, and got a job selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. It paid a buck and a quarter an hour three hours every weeknight after school, and six hours on Saturday. We weren't paid for the time driving to and fro canvassing areas all over Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts. A labor union would never approve that. My guess it was against RI's labor laws.
By hook or crook, our employer, Mike Packer, got away with paying us twenty-five cents less than minimum wage. Taking advantage of kids must be easy. Piteous Packer knew that. He noticed me showing co-workers two quarters one of my Sunday morning customers gave to me. Those Seated Liberty Quarters, dated 1854 & 1876, were in great condition. Packer took them and uttered he would get them appraised. Days later I asked him about my two old coins. Packer responded with, “I thought they were a gift.”
I just stood there not saying a word. I didn't want to lose my job. Maybe that rip-off saved my friend Bill and me from losing our jobs that spring. Packer owed me.
While canvassing Brockton, Mass, I sold a subscription to two college girls. One of them was gorgeous. It was lust at first sight. The five or six years age difference didn't stop me from hitting on her especially after she told her roommate I was cute.
Eventually my co-worker, Bill, joined us in that one room efficiency apartment. Several wine coolers later I still made no progress. Not even a kiss. While tipsy Bill sat on the bed with plain-Jane, talking about his girl, I played a game of stripe rock-paper-scissors with the foxy lady. I had no problem whatsoever removing my shirt when her rock broke my scissors. All she removed were her slippers. When it came time to take off some clothing, she turned to her friend and said, "He thinks I'm going to strip for him."
It was late - time to leave.
Our crew chief and crew were long gone, I thought. Lucky for us the girls had a car. It was about an hour ride back to Providence. The gorgeous one drove while I was in the back with her friend. She allowed me to play with her breasts - nothing else. Every time I tried to explore below the waistline, she stopped me.
I was surprised Packer's office was lit up since it was after 10 PM. Sensing we might be in trouble, we rushed to my car for a quick getaway. As my 1955 Ford moved toward the parking lot exit, Packer, with hands on hips, appeared. He told us our crew and the police were looking for us in Brockton. Maybe the boss felt some remorse about stealing my quarters and that’s why he didn’t fire us. Perhaps it was our outstanding weekly sales.
Months later I was in a Taunton, Mass, police station when Packer promised a cop that he would fire me. After that over the phone pledge the cop released my co-workers and me without any charges. Unable to beat a confession out of me possibly had a lot to do with that agreement.
Apparently beating a kid's head with a huge phone book was an acceptable method used in interrogations. Several policemen witnessed the torture without batting an eye.
It seemed like torture to me. That cop must have disliked me or he just liked to hit kids with his telephone book. That Taunton directory was a big. The man even tried to twist my ear off, but I wouldn’t confess due to being so stupid I couldn't figure out what I had done. The head battering might've had a lot to do with it.
The cop had shown me one of our magazine cards. The card had a list of magazines on one side and usually nothing on the other side. That card had "Joe Blow, 98 Eat Me Ave., Suck Me, RI" written on the back. "You gave this to a woman, you silver tooth bastard," the cop shouted.
I figured out what had happened on the way back to the office. One of my co-workers snuck that card into my pile of cards. I even knew what woman I handed it to. I sold her an order. When she was about to put her name on the card, she stopped, gave me a dirty look and then slammed the door in my face. It was easy for her to identify me. I had a silver front tooth at the time.
The boss didn’t fire me. He just told me “Keep out of Taunton”.
During that summer there were plenty of kids and only a few crew chiefs. Mike Packer promoted me crew chief. Still only a buck and a quarter an hour, but I would get to keep the four dollar down payment for every order I wrote up. The older boys were getting the four plus ten per order. Hey, I was dumb and Packer knew it.
Being a boss was stressful. I hated it after Richard Smith’s death. I caught Richard and an older kid playing cards in the car instead of working - three times. They’d go back to work then shortly later sneak back to the car. Back at the office, I told Packer - thinking he’d give them a talking to. Instead he ordered me to fire one of them.
"I can't do that. How about a warning?"
Packer replied, "Fire one or I'll fire you."
I fired the smaller boy who had no sales that day. The big kid had managed to get one. That's my reason for firing Smith. I lied to myself. I realized the large kid was the ringleader. Fear alone coerced me into doing something I regretted for years. I was indirectly responsible for the death of a 16-year-old boy.
The next day Smith drowned at Lincoln Woods. If I hadn’t fired him, he would have been selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door instead of swimming.
Another co-worker, Jersey, quit to get a job working as a garbage man. He lasted less than a week. I don’t know how, but he ended up under the hydraulic compactor. He was crushed to death. I guess back then sixteen year olds were allowed to work around dangerous machinery.
Labor Day Sunday, that year, Bill, his cousin Mike, and I drove to Hyannis, Mass. Bill's girlfriend had moved there. We spent the night.
On Monday, we pulled into a gas station across the street from the police station.
A cop must have looked out the window and saw us. He left the building, walked across the street and stopped by me, the driver. He bent down and asked, "Which one of you is Bill Mello?"
Bill sat to my right. "I'm Bill Mello."
"Your mother has a missing person report out on you." Then he looked at me. "Let me see your license, registration, and insurance card."
I was from Rhode Island. Car insurance wasn't required back then. It was in Massachusetts. Methinks that cop knew it was highly likely I had no car insurance.
I spent the night in a small jail cell. The next day a judge ordered me to pay a $120.00 fine. I didn't have that much cash on me or a credit card. It was back to the cell until my mother could find someone to bring the cash.
My boss, Mike Packer, picked me up and paid my fine. He was probably still feeling guilty about the two quarters he conned out of me. Of course, I paid him back, and he didn't charge me interest. He turned out to be a nice guy and generous.
Mike started giving Bill and me a fifty dollar bonus for every fifteen orders we closed in one week. On a good week I made over $130.00. Not bad for a kid back in the 60s.
While working I met a pretty red head in Attleboro, Mass. The first time we made out she said, “Once I start I have to go all-the-way.”
Well, I did not have sex with Red or even touch an area Donald Trump once talked about in a taped video. I only made out with Red twice. The second time after I fixed Bill up with one of her girlfriends. Bill's date wasn't pretty. Maybe that’s why my best friend, Bill, asked Red out behind my back.
Without calling, I showed up in front of Red's house on a Friday night after work. She was outside with a friend. As we talked I noticed that she was nervous. She said she had to go inside and I should phone her Saturday or Sunday. I sensed betrayal. Within minutes Bill drove up with a friend in his car.
I talked to him. He informed me that he was there to take out Red. I didn’t make a fuss and left. I never called the red head again.
Bill and I didn’t socialize for a while after that. He joined the marines after high school. I quit my job in sales and went to work for a defense contractor in Connecticut.