K-Rod there over at L.A. Observed posted an item about Cathy Siepp nosting waxolgic about the old Herald Examiner, and it got me reminiscent and misty about my very first job in the late ’70s with that beloved rag as a paperboy delivering the afternoon edition. Best job I’ve ever had. Ever.
My route was bordered by Melrose and Beverly to the north and south, and Wilton and Western to the west and east, and back then none of the business signage was in Korean. I had something like 100 customers, including “Soap’s” Katherine Helmond who had a little cottage on Gramercy Place at the time. Once I almost ran over a very aggravated and very short Herve Villechaize storming out of a tax place on Western whose owner was another customer. Even better, our route supervisor was George Lucas. Not THE of course, but that didn’t stop us paperboys from kidding him about where he was hiding R2D2 and C3P0 and when was he going to get the landspeeder out of the shop. George also seemed to be ever-cultivating a staggering crop of nose hair, but we never kidded him about that, Just stared. And he smoked like a crazy train. Camels. Unfiltered. Held them between long bony fingers tipped by demon fingernails that were jetblack from the years upon years of inked newsprint he shoveled.
Le Conte Junior High would let out, I’d go home, then I’d bike over to the parking lot at Wilton and Third Street across from a big old church to await George’s arrival with th eother paperboys. We were an ever-changing ragtag crew of South Hollywood punks, illegals, and others, and George would pull in around 3:30 p.m. in this beat-up white Chevy truck where he’d crack open a can of Coors and count out our papers, then shoot the shit while we rubberbanded them. Sometimes he’d raise the hood of his Chevy ó the engine a makeshift barbecue ó from which he’d unfasten packages of foil filled with beef franks and buns warmed by the heat coming off the manifold cover. Pulling condiments out of the glove box, I’d dress mine with mustard and relish and sit there on the tailgate in the afternoon sun wrapping my papers and eating the Best Hot Dogs Ever while he’d urge us to get more subscribers.
“Boys,” he’d tell us. “No matter how bad things get out there, people are going to always want their Herald Examiner. Always!”
The Herald Examiner shut its doors 15 years ago next month.