Tell us about the most surprising helping hand you’ve ever received.
The word McCarthyism means little to people anymore.
I was ten years old and had a newspaper route for The Lima News.
Their employees went on strike a year earlier. The newspaper hired ‘scab’ employees. That made me a scab. The striking employees formed a new paper named The Lima Citizen.
To give some sort of context, today if you are called bully, homophobic, or racist it matters little what or who you really are, it sticks with you. It’s like a stain that can’t be removed. The more you proclaim you are not, the more convinced people become you are. To deny it is to own it.
In the 50s being called a communist was something you could not disprove. Once you were called a communist you immediately came under suspicion of being one. The Lima News, everyone one who worked for it, advertised in it, and everyone who subscribed to it were labeled communists.
The newspaper bag even had “Lima News” in bright “red” letters. If that’s not proof I don’t know what is?
We lived in the working/union side of town. I recall being chased by paperboys from The Lima Citizen. They were older and bigger. To me they looked fearsome and mean.
Upon seeing a paperboy from The Lima Citizen I hid. I was in absolute fear of them.
One Sunday morning I had a full load of papers. The Sunday papers were heavy. Frankly, the load was too heavy for me. I struggled to balance my bike heading to the route. The bag that wrapped around my handlebars and over the front fender continually shifted its weight.
My bike and I finally tipped over. The Sunday papers were strewn about. I gathered them and stuffed them back inside the bag. Every time I sat the bike up the load shifted again and the bike fell over again.
From the distance I saw riding toward me the meanest and biggest Lima Citizen paperboy on the east end of Lima. I was vulnerable. I could not move. I was going to get the beating of my life. I thought ’should I cry now or wait until he beats me?’
He scowled as he rode his bike up to me. He thrust down his kickstand with a mighty shove of his foot. He walked over to me. He stood in front of me sneering as if to say ’you little communist weakling I’m going to pummel you.’
“Let me give you a hand,” he said. “Keep your bag balanced. You’re new. You’ll catch on.”