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Delivering the news: battling through early morning missteps and packs of wild dogs
the Sunday edition (with color comics)

Don’t Mess with the Paducah Sun Newspaper Delivery Woman in Clinton
With a loud thud, at 6:45 a.m. Sunday morning, the Sunday edition of the Paducah Sun (formerly called the Paducah Sun Democrat) made it over 87 feet from car window to front porch in a single precise throw. I instantly knew that Judy had made yet another Olympian throw.

She is my Paducah Sun daily connection. She is my newspaper delivery person. She is also the main reason that I suffer the ill tongue of my wife, who often takes offenses to my screaming, “Oh my God, you won’t believe what the fascist editors at the Paducah Sun have scratched out as an editorial!”

Sometimes, she calmly retorts, “Why do you waste your money on that Republican rag anyway?” Other times, she has really ugly things to say.

About a year ago, I found myself sitting on the porch on a perfect cool brisk fall morning with cup of coffee in hand, watching the first light of day define my yard and neighborhood. At a few minutes past 6:30 a.m., the sound of  screeching tires broke the quiet of the morning.

A small fast moving white car was zigzagging from one house to another along our street. At last I saw a paper bundle tossed out of the car landing in the middle of the yard to my left.

I watched as it moved past my house. Then the white car came to a full stop with brakes screaming for relief. The driver’s door burst open and the small frame of a mature woman leaped out.

“Wow, did I miss some horrible act of terrorism or didn’t move fast enough missing a true sighting of Elvis right here in Clinton?”

 Nope! Nothing so spectacular as that.

Sipping my splendid first cup of coffee for the day, I deduced that the newspaper route delivery person had noticed that her paper had missed its mark. Running late, she had misjudged the arch of projection for the paper by about four inches. Instead of landing in the middle of the driveway, the paper hit the hood of the car and slipped to the ground.

Now the Sunday newspaper lay an equal distance from the newspaper lady and a pack of wild dogs.

As the car came to a full stop, the lead dog, about four feet long and two feet high, of this urban herd slowly advanced upon the dormant Sunday Edition of the Paducah Sun (with color comics).

A cross between a wolf and junkyard mutt, the beast was about to tear into the Sunday edition on the ground. With a fast downward motion of her right hand, the newspaper lady dipped and grabbed the paper while balancing off her body weight with her left hand thrust high in the morning air.

The beast growled in reaction.

The news lady completed her twirl and with both hands firmly in control of the Sunday edition of the Paducah Sun, began to clobber the beast about his forehead, eyes, and neck.

Stunned, the beast and his gang couldn’t understand how this was happening.

Nor could I.

At that precise moment, that half of a second in time and space when the brain of the beast was registering the attack and the other part of his brain was about to give the command for his claws to start to rip and tear apart, she struck again.

Lifting her body weight just a fraction of an inch of ground, she turned anew in a swirling motion, squarely connecting a size 6 boot right into the nose of the beast.

Final straw. With a yelp signifying his reluctance to encounter any more surprises, the beast and his gang ran for their lives.

Coming to full stop in a half crouch, she waited until the herd rounded the corner. Slowly she rose to her full height, held up her trophy for one more look to make sure it was undamaged. Confident that all was well again, she gently placed the Paducah Sunday Edition (with color comics) on the doorstep of the senior gentleman; my neighbor most surely was still asleep. Then she got back into her car and left.     

“Bravo! Bravo!” I shouted, clapping my hands.

What a battle over the news.

It was then that I knew I had to support this fine woman who risks it all against elements and critters to deliver the news. So on Monday I ordered a full year’s subscription to the Paducah Sun.

If there is a deeper meaning to this early morning series of events, I think it is “Don’t mess with or try to stop the delivery of news in Clinton, Kentucky, especially if a lone middle-aged woman is the one delivering the newspaper.”

Maybe on a more global platform, it is about fighting to deliver a product that is rapidly becoming extinct while souls like me desperately seek to maintain the illusion that print media will live for another day. Somehow the rich experience of holding the news in your hands gives you power over the list of events reported for the day as you turn the page after  page seeking yet another story to feed into your forever hungry desire to know what is happening in your world.
I have to believe that she, the newspaper delivery lady, and myself share a rare bond of actually being the target of hard news printed and delivered to doorsteps for our pleasure of opening the front door and reaching out for the news of the day.

And yet, she and I also know that we are fighting one of the last battles of the 20th Century as new tools and market conditions of the 21st Century rapidly redefine the platforms that deliver news to us.

We both know that at some point in the future, there will be a morning when the hard copy of a printed newspaper will no longer travel to Clinton by way of truck, car, and finally to  a scrappy newspaper carrier who will take on the world to deliver her newspapers.

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