There were 62 newspapers to deliver after school and neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor dark of night would stop me from carrying the Alliance Review to each and every doorstep. At 8 years of age, I was the Review’s youngest paper carrier. I wore my yellow slicker and sloshed through soggy yards in bare feet. I was careful to place each newspaper inside storm doors to protect it from the rain.
My grandparents’ home was the exact halfway point on my paper route making it the perfect pit stop for fueling up on snacks and soda. If I walked fast and didn’t stop to visit, I could complete the route in half an hour, but of course I never skipped Grandma’s house.
Grandma leaned out her screen door waving and “you-hooing” me over. She wasn’t wearing a raincoat, but was sporting a plastic bonnet to protect her just-home-from-the beauty-shop-curls. Despite the rain Grandma remained at her post gesturing wildly like an airplane flagger guiding me safely into her warm, dry hangar. Although Grandma’s starched cotton housedress was already severely polka dotted with raindrops, she pulled me in close for a hug. Next she set Grandpa to work drying my feet with a bath towel and hanging my slicker on the shower curtain rod where it could drain into the tub.
As usual, Grandma had arranged a sampler platter with junk-food delicacies on her gold-vinyl-foot stool in the family room. She sat behind me in her lazyboy rocker drying my wet hair with a hand towel. Grandma pointed to the obligatory orange I must eat first. Grandma always pre-peeled it and wrapped it in wax paper. The orange was to appease my mother who didn’t want me filling up on junk every time I was there. Once the orange was downed, I was free to sample the finer snack foods like cheese curls, root beer and ginger cookies.
“Where are your galoshes?” Grandma wanted to know.
“Nobody wears galoshes in the rain, we just go barefoot.” I replied.
Grandma would have none of that. She was not going to allow her granddaughter to walk through wet grass in bare feet. “What if you were to step on something sharp?”
As Grandma dug in her clothespress (her name for closet) to find some boots, I enjoyed the final pleasure of the last cheese curl dissolving in my mouth. The boots Grandma presented were made from clear plastic. Unlike Cinderella’s elegant glass pumps, these clear overshoes fastened with an elastic-figure-eight band around a button at my ankle. My naked heel fell into the pre-pressed hole that was made in anticipation of an old lady’s wide-heeled shoe. My toes wiggled up at me through the clear plastic. It never occurred to me to disobey Grandma or to fuss about not wanting to wear those things. I simply whispered a desperate prayer hoping no one would see me as I sprinted through my paper route delivering to the last 31 houses in record time.