Delivering Newspapers
Inga Svensson

"I think it was 1962 or 63, beginning of the 60's anyway, and I wanted to earn a little extra money, when I heard from a friend of mine that her son had taken a job filling in for someone that delivered the morning newspapers for three weeks. Then I thought - three weeks - I could try that even though I wasn't a early riser and I knew that to deliver newspapers you really had to wake up early. Well, I called the Pressbyrån delivery service in Halmstad and made a few inquiries. Sure thing, they told me - they needed someone to fill in delivering Hallandsposten and a few other morning papers. So I signed up for 3 weeks and thought that somehow I'd be able to manage, and I did, too.

In those days Hallandsposten had their printing presses right in the center of Halmstad. I was supposed to pick up my bundle at 4 in the morning so I had to wake up a little after 3 because it was about 5 kilometers in to town. There was a place there near the presses where you got the newspapers. After you picked up your bundle you went off to where you were supposed to go, your district, to deliver them. The first two days, I got to go with someone else and learn how to do it, then on the third day I had to manage by myself. I got a ring-binder with a list of all the subscribers, where they lived, and which newspaper they were supposed to have. It was tricky, because there were 5 different newspapers to keep straight. But I was done by nine, nine-thirty, then I had the rest of the day to myself.

Well, those three weeks went by and then it was over. After a few days they called me up and said... and wondered if I could temporarily take a district on the south side near the school. The woman that had that district was a housewife and had been off the job because she had trouble with her back. She was supposed to go back to work, but she didn't. I took over her district but by Christmas time I was having trouble with my back, too, so I quit.

The following summer I called up and asked if I could take over the district I had the first year while the man that had it was on vacation. But instead they told me that the man that had the district in Söndrum or Stenhuggeriet, his wife had helped him, but she didn't want to do it any more, so he was quitting. So we agreed that it would be a good idea if I took the Söndrum district around here. One good thing was that I would just have to go out to the road and get the papers. They set out the bundles, they had some special guy that drove out the bundles and put them in different places where the delivery people would start their deliveries.

My rounds went right around Bäckegårdsvägen where Edith lived then down towards the school. I rode my bicycle along that part. That was most convenient. Then after I did that part I changed over to my moped - it was a little hillier there.

It was no problem at all riding the moped around. But in the winter you had to wear plenty of clothes. Then it wasn't bad at all. It was much easier to drive the moped in the winter than it was to ride the bicycle. In fact, I didn't dare ride my bicycle if it was the least bit slippery because then I couldn't keep my feet on the ground. But sitting up on the moped I could reach the ground with both feet. I could feel how slippery it was. I could ride along dragging my feet, feeling just how slippery it was all along the way. The worst was when it rained while the temperature was below freezing so that everything was covered with ice. Then the delivery had to take the time it took. Sometimes it was better to ride close to the very edge of the road where there was gravel that had frozen to the pavement so stones stuck up through the ice. But along the very edge of the road the pavement sloped more and that wasn't good. Of course, I did fall down a few times, but you learn quickly to stop in time and things like that so I seldom fell. Then, again, in the winter you have so much clothing that you are protected a bit. So a moped is an excellent way of getting around. That's for sure. And it's cheap, too. It doesn't use much gas.

It was a bit of a problem keeping the mopeds in good running order. I had to have two, one that I used and one that I kept in reserve in case I had a flat tire or something. If I had a flat I'd have to leave the bags someplace and push the moped home, get the other one, and then go back and get the newspapers. And it was hard on the mopeds with all that starting and stopping, too. The brake wires broke a lot or slid out from where they should be. It was hard for me to get them to stay put in their channels. But I was lucky to know a man that lived near quarry down by the harbor. He helped me a lot. He had a little shed behind the house where he helped people repairing bicycles, mopeds and stuff. He helped me many years. I could come to him almost anytime, Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon even. Sometimes when I came he would be watching TV and I'd say, "Oh, but you can't help me now, you're watching TV!" And then he'd say, "Ahh.. that's just a lot of rubbish," and then he'd turn off the TV and go out to his workshop. Fixing the cables was no problem for him. And he took very little payment.

After I had been delivering Hallandsposten around Söndrum awhile, I found out that the woman that delivered the Stockholm newspapers in Söndrum was quitting to have a baby or something. They asked me to take over that route. I thought about it awhile then I agreed. It involved both Stockholm newspapers, Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet. There weren't so many copies to be delivered but the subscribers were spread out over all of Söndrum, on both sides, both new and old Tylösandsvägen. So it was pretty far, about 35 kilometers all in all.

During the early 70's the Stockholm papers were often delayed. The newspaper employees in Stockholm would occasionally work real slow to show that they were dissatisfied with the work or wages. So when I would get down to the gas station where they left the bundles, I'd just find a note saying, "Dagens Nyheter delayed...", then they'd write in some time when they expected delivery. Or else it was the other paper. Sometimes it was both of them. Sometimes it was late in the day before they turned up. But if I had to make two circuits, which happened quite often, I got double pay and double milage fees and... I think I made pretty good money.

About 1978 or 79 the winters were real bad and the newspapers started to get bigger. With more sections. Sometimes they were heavy as bricks. I was 59 and I couldn't see myself out there riding a moped until I was 65 so I quit.

Those were good years. It was a fun job and I was out in the fresh air. I could be at home most all day and take care of the family. I guess you could say that I stole sleep from myself. But it was hard work, too. I wore out 12 mopeds during those years."

Inga Svensson, Söndrum, Sweden, 1998