Some readers may remember having a paper route as their first job, maybe with a canvas bag, wagon or bicycle to make the job easier. As the internet evolved and newspapers adapted to the growing need for an online presence, those jobs dwindled or were handed off to those who could drive. However, here in Historic Northeast Kansas City, the tradition lives on.
Eight-year-old Caleb Hansen listened to the audiobook “Henry Huggins and the Paper Route” by Beverly Cleary, which gave him an idea. He asked his mom to contact the Northeast News, his community paper, to see if he could deliver the weekly issues to his neighbors.
He began his two-block route on the 100 blocks of Elmwood and Cypress on Sept. 1, and now looks forward to expanding his route.
Accompanied by his 5-year-old sister Lydia and their dog Sammy, and lugging a bag of rolled-up papers, Caleb set off to deliver his papers on an unseasonably warm October morning.
They waved to their neighbor sitting on her front porch and spotted cats sunbathing on the sidewalk or creeping through bushes, noticed chalk painting and pointed out the best monster truck ramps.
Caleb was excited to share what he’s been up to this summer, and between one of his best friends moving away and online learning, he looked forward to taking on this new task.
Neither Hansen kid is a fan of online learning, so they get outside as often as possible. Lydia, who is in kindergarten, said she likes going for a walk with her brother while he delivers papers to get exercise.
Caleb prefers to throw the papers up onto people’s porches or closer to their front doors, lobbing them over fences and up embankments – and he’s got quite the arm. He usually plays on a baseball team, but has stuck to practicing at home with his dad this season.
“It’s hard throwing newspapers on windy days,” Caleb noted, but added that he is up to the task of delivering papers even when the weather turns cold.
The Northeast News publishes a free 12 or 16-page weekly paper, depending on the number and length of stories, and advertising content. They were curious about where the Northeast News is printed, how they get the rubber bands wrapped so tight, and how to use coupons.
As they walked, the siblings discussed their preference for dogs over cats, collected bottle caps for their collection, and compared their dream cars – his a Lamborghini, hers a Mini Cooper.
Caleb’s mom, Christy Hansen, said although they know everyone on their block, they have enjoyed meeting new neighbors on surrounding streets. The Hansens moved to South Cypress Ave. about 10 years ago.
“We, in part, picked it because we were just really interested in the diversity and we lived in Mexico before we moved back to Kansas City, so we wanted to be in kind of a neighborhood with a lot of folks from Spanish-speaking countries,” Christy said.
Caleb is excited to expand his 60-house route to the next block in coming weeks and listen to more audio books whenever they get to take long drives again.