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.

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Radio show host, news director, critic ... California/Alaska/Texas; VISTA Volunteer-Philly, PA; Ft. Benning Infantry School for Boys-Retired USA; ME for Texas Daily Newspaper; Nat'l Bank Chief Appraiser; TX County Chief Probation Officer; Retired x 3 or 4 ... whose counting?? Oh, yeh ... music - Great listener! OK humming ... shower singer ... I can pluck and plunk at a Hammond A-100 ... too old for a roady ... front "kid" for Louie and Pearl (RIP); I know who Mrs. Calabash is/was ... JD told me ... personally!! And, most importantly ... dah-dah!! ... I actually get paid occasionally to write reviews. Note for Web guy: The website above belongs to someone ... ?? Not me!!

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