Day after day, the white pickup truck moved slowly down the neighborhood streets, the quiet of the early morning darkness interrupted by the “thwack” of newspapers landing on front porches.
For 15 years, Alma and Juan Rodriguez of East Curtis Drive delivered newspapers to parts of Curtis Park – Sacramento Bee, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today and Barron’s.
And then on Feb. 16 they attached a handwritten notice to the newspapers: “Our last day to be your carriers is Sun. Feb. 17th.” The note said it was “very difficult to get coverage” when family emergencies forced them to be away, “so we decided we’d better stop.” In the early days, their three sons and two daughters, then ages 14 and younger, helped with deliveries.
“We actually started this so the boys could work,” Alma says. “They were baseball players, pitchers, so they could throw the papers.”
Alma had a day job as a supervisor in the state controller’s office while Juan worked in construction. Because delivering newspapers is early morning work, sleep schedules had to be altered.
Sometimes they would see garage doors left open, with houses dark and suspicious people lurking around. “We not just delivered, but we’d go around the block and let them know we were watching them,” Alma says.
Subscriber Carlos Alcala of Marshall Way recalls one day when he received The Bee but not The New York Times. “When I called them,” he wrote in a Facebook tribute, “they said they hadn’t been given enough papers. They went to Starbucks and got me a Times, on their dime.”
At the end, the Rodriguezes’ circulation area was from Fourth Avenue to Sutterville Road, and from 21st Street to Franklin Boulevard.
In their note to subscribers, the Rodriguezes wrote that they “greatly appreciate your generosity, especially your prayers.” The note suggested customers with particular delivery preferences – “on the driveway or walkway… over the gates etc.” – contact the new carrier, Joe Flenory, at 916 628-7101.