By Clayton “Buddy” Hazell
I was 12 years old when I got my first bicycle. There was a boy, whose name I can’t remember, even though he lived behind us and we played together. For the sake of a name, I will refer to him as Kenneth.
Kenneth had received a new bicycle for Christmas and offered to sell me his old one for $10. Times were hard, and there was no way we could spare the money to buy it. However, Kenneth said that he would hold the bike for two months, but I couldn’t have it until I paid for it.
Mother said that I would have to earn the money myself, so I started looking for a job. There was not much work for 12-year-old boys in Houston. I started looking and asking and soon found that some neighbors were moving and their son was going to have to give up his paper route. I quickly ran over to their house and asked him who I had to talk to about the job. He told me to go with him that afternoon and I could talk to his manager. I ran home as fast as I could and asked my mother if I could have the job. She promptly said, “I will have to meet and talk to the man first.” I met the manager that afternoon and he said, “Son, I will have to talk with your parents before I can hire you.” I told him that my mother and daddy were separated, but he could talk to my mother. We made arrangements for him to talk to my mother after supper that evening. The three of us talked about an hour, with him explaining to Mother and me what my duties and responsibilities would be. The daily papers had to be delivered before 6 p.m. each day, and the Sunday paper before 8 a.m. I quickly agreed. I had a week in which to learn the route and then it would be all mine.
I went to Kenneth to see if he would let me have the bike to use delivering the paper, but he said, “Not until it’s paid for.” I was disappointed, but that was our deal. The Chronicle gave me two bags to carry my papers in, so I had to carry the bags on my shoulders and walk while delivering the papers.
My route covered an area from Eighth Street to Eleventh Street, which covered six blocks (don’t forget, the Heights area had half streets) and then from Oxford to Yale Street going west; a distance of six blocks.
I walked this area every day, seven days a week, for two months and made a total of $15. I was tired, my shoulders ached and I was exhausted, but I had earned the money to buy my own bicycle!