AUTOmatic Times Hits The Streets – 11-year-old Editor-in-Chief

By Bob Grafe, Columnist

For Publication:  December 24, 2009 

© A couple of months ago, I wrote a column in which the question was asked “Where have all the newspaper boys gone?”

  Shortly after the column appeared in newspaper print (and on the Internet), I received word that there was at least one remaining newspaper boy.  This is his story – and a very special Christmas present for this columnist.

  A few days ago I had the privilege of meeting this young newspaper man (the Editor-in-Chief of the AUTOmatic Times) and his colleague/sister.  I had requested an interview with them and was granted one.

  After hearty handshakes all around, I was presented with the following written (typed) “response” to my “newspaper boy” column: 

  “My family and I recently read an article entitled “Where have all the newspaper boys gone?” by Bob Grafe dated September 3, 2009.  I absolutely loved this story.  It was like actually being right there with you, Mr. Grafe, when you were ten years old.  I could imagine being in the empty lot beside Ernie’s Barber Shop helping you find bottles.

  It must have been like being on a great adventure going from house to house and knowing that so many people were looking out for you, keeping you safe while you did your work.

  Although you did a lot of work, I think getting $25 must have been exciting for you.  I also loved reading about the barber shop owner.  You were a very smart business man for such a young age, and working out a trade for haircuts was very smart of you.

  You ask the question about where have all the newspaper boys gone and I would like to answer that question for you this holiday season.

  My name is Dawson and I am 11 years old.  When I was just10 years old, I watched a movie called Kit Kittredge and was, at that time, inspired to create a newspaper entitled AUTOmatic Times.  I share my newspaper with close family and friends online. 

  I use the local newspaper, TV, and Internet to help me with research articles.  My Mom pays me a penny a word for all my articles.  I do not charge anyone for my paper and I love when people want to read my paper.  I learn a lot also by writing my paper.

  The answer to your question is that there are still newspaper boys in the world, I am one.  I also earn enough money with my once-a-month newspaper to hire my sister Shelby (age 9) who is a great reporter for me.

  I wish that our world was safe enough to go on adventures in town like the ones you had … but in today’s world we kids have to be safe.  We still read articles and share stories, but, again, we kids have to be safe.

  Anyway, I wanted you to know that your story was so detailed that it was like watching a movie.  You did a great job.

  And, this holiday, I really wanted you to know that there are still newspaper boys and girls in this world!

  Merry Christmas from Dawson and Shelby (Smith)

P.S.  I just made $4.50 for this article and I am enclosing it for you.  I want you to buy some donut holes this Christmas for yourself and know that it came from a newspaper boy.”

  My reaction to receiving this very thoughtful Christmas present was mixed.  I really wanted to profusely thank both Dawson and Shelby on the spot for their sincere kindness. 

  But, I was about to conduct an unbiased and in-depth interview with them.  I must remain professional and at least a bit aloof, I thought to myself.  After all, I could be interviewing future media moguls.

  My hunch was confirmed when Dawson revealed that he was already Wall Street wise.  “I lost $13 in the stock market.” he said when asked about his “business” interests. 

  Both Dawson and Shelby also mentioned that they were into “making movies.”  When I looked questioningly at their parents sitting at the conference table with them, both nodded in the affirmative – with smiles.

  Movie scripts are written, sets designed, characters developed and actual movie “shoots” completed and edited by this talented duo.

  And, what about AUTOmatic Times.  What was one of the more important stories covered by Dawson – this modern-day Internet equipped newspaper boy turned Editor-in-Chief.

  “Well, I wrote a lot about trash.” Said Dawson.  “You know.  Littering.”

  You might also find an article in a future edition about Dawson’s favorite car, the 2006 Ford Mustang or his favorite food – supreme-style pizza.

  When asked how they come up with ideas for their newspaper they replied that they “play office” a lot to get the feel for what really goes on. 

  And raw politics isn’t off limits for AUTOmatic Times’ Editor-in-Chief who firmly mentioned that “Kids need the right to vote for president.”  Staff writer Shelby demonstrated her editorial capabilities when she recommended that the world could be changed for the better if “toys were free.”

  Dawson mentioned that education was important and commented that Benjamin Franklin might have had a college degree in “scientific imagining.”

  When asked who they felt was the most important person in the world, they both paused and then said that they “didn’t know.”

  But when asked who they might ask over for a special dinner party, their responses were without hesitation.  “Miss Linda, Mr. Jet and Jasmine.”  When asked why, they said they were “close friends and very caring.”  And, “Mr. Jet lets us decorate his gate on holidays,” they said.

  After our interview was completed, Dawson and Shelby were given a tour of a “really big” newspaper building and even had a chance to have their pictures taken standing next to a “huge” printing press.

  As they departed the building through the front door, my editor and I just looked at each other with an unspoken reminder that as the seasons come and go through life it becomes ever so obvious that we need to hold onto “the good” when we experience it – and we just had.

  May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Every Minute In Life Counts!!

By:  Bob Grafe, Columnist

© Did you know that you only have 10,512,000 minutes left to live?  That is correct if you are now a senior citizen age 65 and you expect to live to be age 85 – allowing for 20 more years of living.

  Put another way, you have 7,300 more wake-up calls and a little more than 1,000 weeks to get all those things still remaining to do in your life … done!

  Look at it this way:  You have the same time available and remaining to complete an entirely new career – the same as does a man or woman just beginning a 20-year career in the military.  And, you have the side benefit of no one actually shooting at you.

  There’s still plenty of time to get done what you want to get done – but, you have to go about the task with a well thought-out plan in place.

  So, where do you begin?

  Perhaps the first order of business is to inventory all of your personal time and financial expense commitments that now encumber your personal 24-hour day and your bank account.

  The financial expense commitments portion of the inventory will probably be the easiest to complete.  The personal time commitment portion is much more difficult because it is much more personal involving your emotional investment with many friends and relatives in your life. 

  As you review your personal time commitments be sure to ask yourself, for example, if you are committed to spending one weekend each month away from home with grandchildren, or a special civic organization’s project, or teaching special classes at your church, or with helping out with duties at your senior citizen center, or maybe committed to visiting dear friends and relatives in rest homes, or maybe working at a part-time job that you really enjoy, or maybe just spending a quality weekend at home with your spouse … or any number of other good things to do “one” weekend each month. 

  Well, something has to give because you run out of month before you run out of that special “one” weekend each month – it looks more like “every” weekend is taken up and then some.

  A high level of personal time commitments for on-going activities that are not considered by you to be “very” important may interfere with your desire to complete your list of things that you want to get done – while there is still time to do so. 

  Once that current inventory of personal time commitments is completed, take a deep breath and prioritize the inventory list into three areas:  Very Important; Less Important; and Not Important.  Keep the list private for a few days while you ponder what you have written down.  Then, review the list and make appropriate changes that you have thought about.

  Now, with a blank piece of paper, using the same inventory list categories of Very Important; Less Important; and Not Important, write down those things in life that you really want to accomplish during this “next” 20-year career of yours that is just waiting to begin.  Prioritize your list and then let those private ideas incubate for a couple of days before you make changes to your “final” prioritized list of things you want to accomplish.

  Like it or not, the “other” list of financial commitments that you will have to complete during this life’s inventory process will help to bring into focus those important items that you want to get accomplished – and that you can actually afford.

  For best results with your future list of accomplishments, be totally honest with yourself when you complete your financial commitments analysis.  Don’t be tempted to over-state or under-state either projected expenses or income.  

  These simple steps will help to un-clutter your life allowing you a better picture of what you want to accomplish with your remaining years – what is truly important to you.

  It will help the process along if you begin by placing all of the televisions in your house in the garage sale that you should have.  Garage sales help to un-clutter your life.  Or just drop all your “junk” off at a Goodwill Industries collection site.  Remember, one person’s “junk” is another person’s “bargain.” 

  Be sure to get a receipt for your donation since you also have another 20 or so annual IRS tax return forms to complete between age 65 and 85.  Maybe you’ll find some hidden tax right-offs among your treasures donated to Goodwill or other charitable organizations.

  To help with the “financial” un-cluttering process, you might consider canceling those subscriptions to unread magazines, special “discount” membership offers for “seniors,”  those “special” credit cards now infrequently used, and other commitments that may not provide you with the benefits once promised but seldom delivered – but still cost you that monthly or annual fee.

  Likewise, it is probably a good time to continue with your personal time commitment inventory tweaking by evaluating your membership in various worthwhile organizations.  Some community organizations may still offer you an opportunity to be of service within a specific area and some national organizations may continue to offer you an opportunity to contribute time or funds for good causes.

  But, some have outlived your ability to contribute either financially or with your time and they may need to be dropped from your list of commitments.

  Once your life is a little less cluttered, your personal time commitments and financial commitments inventory tasks are completed and well thought-out, your next 20-year career will be ready to tackle with gusto – perhaps just in time for the new year!

 Submitted by Bob Grafe for publication on Thursday, December 10, 2009.