Day 50: “Extra! Extra! Read All About It!”

Today is Day 50 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

On this Sunday morning, as I walked I was surprised to see a newspaper in every driveway for blocks and blocks. That’s something I haven’t seen in years. Apparently, the San Francisco Chronicle has launched a campaign to attract new subscribers by providing free samples.comic strip

When I was a little girl,  Papa read the newspaper daily and we read the colorful “funny papers” together every Sunday morning. I’d sit in his lap at the kitchen table and we’d laugh at “Peanuts,” “Mutt and Jeff,” “The Family Circus,” “Little Lulu,” Nancy,” and read the continuing sagas of “Dick Tracy,” “Archie,” and “Prince Valiant.”

That tradition made me a newspaper subscriber as an adult. That is, until about 15 years ago when I noticed that we kept getting the paper but no one was reading it. We were paying $10.00 a week to have a paper wrapped in plastic delivered to our driveway so we could put it in the recycling bin. Like so many other consumers, we had turned to electronic media including radio, TV, and the Internet to get the news.

In 1932, when Papa was 10 years old, he sold newspapers in San Francisco to earn money to help his family. He’d hop a streetcar and sell the papers to passengers for 10 cents each. Papa earned a half penny for each paper he sold. He hustled to sell 100 papers, so his father would have fifty cents for lunch money the next day.

I recall that my brother had a paper route when he was a kid and delivered newspapers by bicycle. By the time my sons were 10 years old, they couldn’t get a paper route. “Paperboys” became a thing of the past as newspaper publishers hired delivery services manned by adults who pitched the papers onto driveways from slow-moving vans. In fact you can watch a clip from a 2001 documentary called Paperboys that follows five boys on their daily routes and highlights the decline of the job that for many years prepared young men for the discipline required to earn a living.

Subscriptions to print newspapers have declined rapidly over the past 14 years as more and more consumers turn to online news, and as advertisers invest their dollars in TV, radio, and electronic media. Click here to read the grim statistics for print newspapers.

I’m curious. Do you subscribe to a print newspaper?

Day 49: Use It or Lose it

Today is Day 49 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

Something magical occurred today. I was able to walk a little over 2 miles without slowing my pace and without feeling any muscle exhaustion or joint pain. I didn’t lose my breath and I wasn’t drenched in sweat. Suddenly, and seemingly overnight, my body is in agreement with my mind that a two mile walk is easy peasy.

Papa used to say, “Use it or lose it,” to emphasize the importance of daily exercise. For the past few years I’ve focused on keeping my fingers in shape by exercising them for hours at a time on the keyboard; but the rest of me has pretty much sat idle.

I had been worried that I’d spend all 365 days of the Papa’s Walk Challenge struggling.  But today, after 49 days of walking daily, I think I could’ve gone an extra mile. I can’t wait to try.  I’m so excited!

Day 48: Guns & Guitars

Today is Day 48 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

rifleThe first thing I noticed, as I began my early morning walk, was a Coors Light beer can that had been carelessly thrown in the gutter. That made me pay attention to other litter along the way including food wrappers from Subway and Taco Bell, a coffee cup from Seven-Eleven, discarded napkins and receipts, some tissue, a cigarette package and some cigarette butts, and a tube of lipstick.

I was walking in the street and as I approached a busy street corner I took my gaze off the ground. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Directly in front of me, parked on the street, was a small, white truck. It had a canvas cover over the truck bed, and sitting right on top of the cover, on the driver’s side of the vehicle, was an acoustic guitar and a 22 caliber rifle!

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked around to see if the owner was present.  There was no one there.  I thought, “I could just walk off with these things,” and stifled a laugh as I imagined being arrested for carrying a rifle through the neighborhood.  guitarI decided to keep going and spent the rest of my walk imagining the story behind the abandoned gun and guitar.

Did a musician carry the gun for protection as he performed in seedy venues?  When he got home from his gig did he start to unload his gear but was too stoned to remember he left the guitar and rifle on the truck bed?  Did the truck driver spend the day at the rifle range and afterwards jam with some friends?  Did he get distracted unloading his truck when he got home and forget about the gun and guitar?  What could be the explanation?  Can you speculate what happened?

If you had run across these items, what would you have done?

Day 47: Walk Away Renee

Yesterday was Day 47 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

Walk Away Renee Album CoverThe day got ahead of me, so I took a short evening stroll.  As I walked, I saw a  Dodge truck that was double parked.  The doors were open as the driver loaded equipment into it. The radio was blaring and I was transported back in time to the summer of 1966 when the song, Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke was released.

Interestingly, the song placed at number 222 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It featured a harpsichord  that resulted in the song being dubbed “Baroque Pop” by music critics.

Watch a video of The Left Banke performing Walk Away Renee on

Click here to read the lyrics.

Give A Back Rub A Day!

In this day and age of two-income families and constant tech-interruptions (email, cell phones, etc.), I think it must be especially difficult for parents to find the time to make memorable moments with their children.

Papa worked twelve to fourteen hour days on his business. To let my sister, brother and me know he cared, he would get

"Where's My Hug?"

“Where’s My Hug?”

up an extra hour early in the morning, so he could get dressed and ready for work, and then wake each of us up for school. He would quietly come into the room, carefully sit on the edge of the bed and say, “It’s time for a back rub.” He’d gently massage our backs for five to ten minutes until we were fully awake and ready to get up and dressed for school.

I was the only kid I knew who didn’t wake to the blare of an alarm clock. Papa did that for us every single morning of our elementary and early high school years. There are traditionally 180 school days in a year. Multiply that by three kids and you’ll find Papa gave 540 back rubs a year!

Often, as Papa rubbed our backs he’d whisper a word or two of encouragement.  And he’d often finish the back rub by saying, “I love you. You know that, right?” It wasn’t just a declaration of his love, but a request for acknowledgement of what he had said. Papa wanted to be sure we got the message.

Papa’s morning back rub ritual and his intentional declaration of love are treasured memories for our family. You are welcome to carry on his tradition with your family and loved ones too.


Day 46: Ship to Shore

Yesterday was Day 46 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

I took a late afternoon walk and watched as someone carefully backed their Sea Ray sports boat (mounted on a trailer) into their driveway.

speed boat on trailerThat reminded me of the Sockitume, the speed boat that Papa owned.  Our family spent many summers water skiing on the Sacramento and San Juaquin rivers. Both Papa and I learned to water ski on two skis, but neither one of us ever managed to get up on one ski. It wasn’t for lack of trying or not having great coaches who were adept at teaching the skill – we just couldn’t seem to find that sweet balance spot as the boat’s tow line pulled us out of the river. We’d almost get it – and then plunk, we’d fall in the drink.

As I continued my walk, I noticed  more marine crafts in driveways including another sports boat, a small motor boat, a kayak, and a Hewes Craft  fishing boat.

Boats require a lot of care and can be expensive to maintain. Papa told me the adage, “The two happiest days of a boat owners life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it.”

I know our family enjoyed happy times aboard the Sockitume – pronounced “sock-it-to-me” a line that was repeated by actress Judy Carne on a comedy show called “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” that aired from 1968-1973. You can watch Carne sing her “Sock It To Me” song. My mom changed the spelling so that it wouldn’t date the boat once the show was no longer popular. Good thinking!