Friday, January 09, 2009

It’s In The The P-I

When I was a kid in the late fifties and early sixties I had a Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper route on lower Queen Anne for a number of years. So did my 2 brothers.

My brothers and I also operated a daily old school style PI paper stand at the Canadian Pacific dock at pier 64 on Seattle's waterfront for about 10 years, passing the operation down from one brother to the other. I was the youngest and last in the line of family lineage with the paper stand.

The CPR ran the steamships Princess Marguerite and Princess Patricia from pier 64. The ships took hundreds of passengers to Victoria on daily trips that left at 8am and returned that night at 9pm. Almost every passenger would want a morning paper to read before boarding the ship. It was a lucrative business for a precocious kid in those days.

I think that I made about $25 dollars a week on average. For years during cruise season I’d wake myself up at about 5am and jump on my bike to head for the waterfront where I’d sell papers from 6am to about 7:30am to passengers boarding the ships. It was like taking candy from a baby because in those days no adult in their right mind would not want to start the day out by reading the daily newspaper.

Boy how times have changed.

Anyone growing up at the time I did in America probably has a hard time psychologically imagining not having newspapers. Like most of us of the post WWII war era I took great comfort in the daily ritual of getting the paper each day and systematically reading each and every section. This was the way to get most of your real news even with broadcast and cable TV news becoming a big factor.

It affects me deeply when I hear reports of the sale and possible demise of the PI. It was definitely the better of the two daily newspapers in Seattle in my mind and experience. I rather it be the Seattle Times that was going under. Working class people read and trusted the PI more or less as their newspaper and conservatives, business type and squares read and revered the Seattle Times. Having worked for the PI as a new boy only added to my allegiance.

I had other reasons to hate the Seattle Times based on the fact that I was fired from a job at the Times as an adult. I got a job there as an advertising copy boy just after I returned from 3 years of military service in 1968. I had becoming more and more alienated with the establishment and society in general and demonstrated that by letting my hair grow out. I also had several disagreements with my supervisor about my liberal and pro union political positions. I was fired after working there for 6 months when I told my boss to get fucked when he gave me a ultimatum to cut my hair or be fired. So I said fuck the Seattle Times and made it a point of never buying that paper unless absolutely force to do so. All my childhood prejudices about the Times versus the PI were resoundingly reinforced for life then and there.

Of course, taking my involvement with this blog and the growth in the blogging community it's not hard to see what is happening to the print newspaper industry. It would have been completely impossible to imagine this day back in the hay day of the print news business when I was selling those papers on the waterfront. People would of thought you insane to suggest there would be a day when major cites like Seattle would not be able to support a newspaper like the PI.

Can’t we all get together and buy the PI perhaps, or is the Stranger now the de facto liberal newspaper in Seattle? One thing for sure I want that sign that’s on top of the PI building saved. Perhaps we can put it with the hat and boots in that park.

To me this is all very sad it's like losing a old friend.

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