Confessions of a longtime Boston Globe trotter

Posted May 08, 2009, at 6:15 p.m.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

That what my sainted mother would have said at the prospect of The Boston Globe closing its Dorchester doors. That was the big news this week until the union and the owners at The New York Times forged an agreement that will keep the doors open … for now, at least.

For those of us growing up in West Roxbury, the Globe was almost as big a part of our life as St. Theresa’s Church. Almost.

The morning Globe was delivered to the doorstep, long before the sun came up. The evening Globe came home tucked under my father’s arm as he came through the door. I ran to get the paper first.

I would like to say that my intellectual thirst demanded the latest news from across the country, the Mideast, China and Africa. But the truth was I wanted to see the comics … then the sports page. I had to see what my hero Clyde Vollmer (he loved Western movies) had done. The rest of the Red Sox team was always lousy, but we fell in love with them, anyway. I was doomed for life.

Eventually, when I got my J.C. Higgins bike (red, black and white, streamers, mudflaps and 50 stolen reflectors), I proudly got a job at the Globe office near Hastings Field and delivered the paper seven days a week. The occasional Boston Post, Record and even Christian Science Monitor found their way into my bag. The salary, if memory serves, was $3 a week for the daily paper and big money … $12 … to fight off the dogs and deliver the heavy Sunday papers on a big wooden push cart with steel wheels.

My first association with the Globe ended in a rare hurricane. My mother called from Florida and said I was not to deliver papers in a hurricane. I know the boss’s name was Eddie. He fired me when I refused to deliver the paper.

Hmph. Between Eddie and Julia, I feared Julia more … much more.

The newspaper and I parted ways as I managed to flunk my way out of Roslindale High School. I even managed to flunk gym. My more learned friends at Boston Latin forced me to take the college boards on a Saturday afternoon. Their patronizing ways were shattered when I got higher marks than they did and I was miraculously accepted at Northeastern University, the least prestigious institution among Boston’s schools.

Like I cared.

After a year in a horrible factory making electrical capacitors (whatever they were), I was thrilled to be dancing in academe even if it was among the streetcars on Huntington Avenue. It was a great time to be in the city, what with the Boston Strangler and the weekly gangland murders. Somehow, I managed to make it through my freshman year, on academic and behavioral probation, while all my Roslindale pals, including the valedictorian, fell by the wayside.

My reward was a co-op job at … wait for it … the new building of The Boston Globe on Morrissey Boulevard.

The much more sophisticated students from Georgetown, Boston College and Boston University bemoaned their fate at such menial jobs. I was (salary $40) in heaven. Several times a day the mighty presses shook the building as still another edition thundered into existence. About 20 minutes later, some other co-op slave delivered the latest edition to our desks.

Cool.

My job was to service the college co-eds who worked as part-time ad takers. If there was a prettier group in the city, I never saw it. I fell in love at least twice a week. The parties were endless. No one had a dime, since we had to save $30 a week for tuition. But no one had a better time.

I was offered a full-time job in the advertising department but I thought I had other places to go, other people to see. It was too safe.

A decade later, I ended up at the Bangor Daily News after a reporter was murdered by her husband and I took the opening. Through my remaining, I became the Maine correspondent for the Globe. My parents were old-school tough and they spent precious little time on “feelings.” Twice I had front-page stories (Friendship sloops and a rescue at sea) on the Sunday Globe delivered to their Boston doorstep. If they were impressed, they never bothered to mention it.

Over lobsters at some Boothbay Harbor restaurant, I was offered another job at the Globe, the next reporter opening. It was too late. I had fallen in love with Maine and could never go back to Boston and all those red lights. But I read the Globe each and every day. The day never felt right if I didn’t read it — especially the sports pages.

Now the nation has turned its back on the daily newspaper in favor of the computer screen. The Globe, even the Globe, is threatened with extinction.

On Tuesday morning, Gary Fowlie, Camden’s richest Democrat, advised me that the Globes had survived all right, but they had gone up to $1.50 a day at his Overpriced Emporium.

I am now rethinking my newspaper reading habits. How important can the Globe be?

I can read it online, after all.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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