Paperboy was a classic game for numerous platforms, although its most popular and well known incarnation was on the NES.

You are an intrepid, 8-bit newspaper delivery boy, and you must face the perils of a street full of crazy residents to fulfill your mission. You start out with three lives, and ten newspapers. You ride your trusty bike down the street, pressing the A button to throw papers. Pressing up on d-pad made you go faster, down made you go slower. Left made you veer inwards at a 45 degree angle, while right made you veer outwards.

The game took place in a pseudo-3D environment, which textures and shading in their 8-bit glory. There were 20 houses on the street and at the beginning 10 were randomly selected to be the houses you must deliver to. When you pass those houses on your bicycle, you must throw a paper either into their mailbox (for more points) or onto their doorstep (for less points, but still more than 0). Where the papers landed depended on how fast you were going when you threw them, where you threw them from, and how far away you were when you threw them. You also received points for breaking windows, hitting gravestones, leveling trees, or otherwise desecrating the houses you were not supposed to deliver to.

If you crashed into anything, you died. That included houses, crazy skateboarders, insane women with knives, guys with nooses, gutters, cars, dogs, go-karts, and stock cars. (And much, much more). If you died three times, game over. There were no extra lives, either. The only powerup you could hope to find was the package of papers which would fully refill your supply. If you survived making your rounds, you were rewarded with an obstacle course. You had 45 seconds to complete it, at which time you would receive a big bonus. If you died during the obstacle course, no points, but you didn’t lose a life.

At the completion of a level, you received the daily report. Any houses you failed to deliver to would cancel their subscriptions. If you managed to deliver to every house, you gained one additional subscriber. There were seven levels, (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday). If you survived the whole week, your initials would be placed on the High Score List. Immortalized, until your cart’s battery pack died, anyway.

Thoughts on the Death of the American Paperboy.

Back in the 1970s all my friends and I had paper routes. It was how we managed a small income through which we could afford extras at the school cafeteria (like two ice cream sandwiches) and supported other hobbies (like baseball cards). For myself, it was the money with which I bought the supplies to make possible my dream of writing. That paper route money bought a typewriter, reams of paper, new typewriter ribbons, mailing envelopes and the postage to send my creative efforts out to publishers.

At the same time we evolved the ability to manage money at a young age. We had to deal with odd and sometimes downright evil supervisors. Mr. Paradise was our "coordinator" and he chewed cigars, smelled like he was allergic to soap, and always seemed to cheat us out of our earnings when it came time to "settle up" for the week with him.

"How can I only have five dollars for the week? I made more than that in tips!"

Some customers would avoid paying on a weekly basis. I remember two that routinely ignored the bell after seeing me through the window. If we cut off their delivery, they would call the paper, rant and rave and scream of injustices until we reinstated their delivery, often without any back payment. We took the loss, and this was not that uncommon. At the same time, we had wonderful customers who greeted us at the door in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, and asked us about school and our future plans, and tipped well. Most of the time their tips were making up for the non-payment of their neighbors.

The paperboy is lost amongst the backdrop of history. The newspaper delivery these days is most commonly done by older folks in station wagons or pick-up trucks. Instead of walking door to door (we were reported for throwing the paper to the doorstep from our bicycles), these new fangled paper adults toss the newspaper from moving vehicles, sometimes leaving an entire neighborhood's newspapers at the foot of the stop sign at the end of the street.

In my generation, being a paperboy was a rite of passage and definitely a most sexist profession. There were few, if any, "paper girls." Actually, I never knew a girl who wanted a paper route back in those days. Having seen what earning a small, but disposable, income was like we sought other jobs as we entered high school. We mowed lawns, weeded gardens, painted houses, and then went after the big fish... jobs we needed a social security number for. Still, being a paperboy was our first exposure to working for someone other than our parents, someone we couldn't throw a tantrum in front of because we wanted more money. People for whom we had to settle for what they granted us. Tantrums were an offense for which you would lose your route. Mr. Paradise would have none of that, and when he came to your house on Saturday morning with a cigar clenched between his teeth and his filthy pants rubbing against your parents' wallpaper he wanted his money. You had to give it to him. Whining wouldn't help.

Is the American paperboy gone forever? Electronic media has rendered our old cash cow of two editions per day, morning and afternoon, obsolete. Where does American youth get their first exposure to the cruel elements of Capitalism? We did our share of hanging out on street corners looking for trouble, but we earned the few dollars we had in our pockets.

These are days
Wake up too early
Get on our bikes
Pick up that bundle
By the side of the road
Count our papers
We're always shortchanged
Got there too late
Damned morning commuters
Always stealing copies
They think these are free

Need to think fast today
Who won't get a paper?
Mr. Ray never tips
He gets no paper
I pretend I forgot

Mr. Johnson's big dog
Looks angry today
I remember last week
He bit Charlie's sister

Do I have enough time
To finish before school
Maybe I'll call Paradise
Tell him I'm sorry
I need an afternoon route instead

What's this breaking story?
No time to read
Feels like dawn is breaking
Full speed ahead
Just three more streets
And I'm done for the day

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