The boy who sold newspapers

By Fernando Estrada

I was the eldest of eight siblings. From childhood I was surrounded by an environment of reading, between nine and thirteen, I accompanied my father selling newspapers in Palmira, Valle, Colombia, appeared at that time as well now few opportunities for poor people. We were dedicated to sell newspapers and make tobacco at home with my mother and our grandmother. Many homes survived the merciless exploitation exercised by the mediators of these sources of underemployment. So when I got to know the school had read enough. In Palmira newspaper vendors were few, stood out of San Pedro José Lozano, and Mary the "Black" Bolivar Park. They were by then the bosses from the newsagents in Palmira.

The geography of newsboy depended on the separation of powers and territories. The City Centre and Station and Versailles were under the rule of Mary and their children. Municipal, San Pedro, Zamorano and Barrio Obrero, were under the command of Jose Lozano. As in war and armed conflict, the geography of the newsboy had forbidden territories. We worked for Jose Lozano, so that both Mary and her children saw us as their competitors (enemies). Mary's people unlike vendors José Lozano, went well armed and skilled paths of the underworld, which was then concentrated in neighborhoods of Delights, Emilia, and Loreto. I remember Mary's children had many stories told between the cells and police stations.

Any Given Sunday with one of my brothers took the race as a path 33 from the street 29. Our goal was to traverse nearly half the city and get home without any newspaper, passing through the gallery Satellite, Versailles, taking the road 42, then 19 and finally race San Pedro. Indeed, we came to our house without any newspaper and earlier than usual. Ripped shirts, no pants and bruised face, arms and whole body. We had removed the papers and given us a reckless life lesson. In Palmira and Colombia to the streets of cities and mountains in the villages have owners. We had gone into the territory of the sons of Mary.

That face dark newsboy had, however, its counterpart. When we left we could redeem newspapers the next day so we could readings in detail in the evenings. My father took the first part. Then, with my brother we took the Sunday. Four decades ago the newspapers had a great Sunday edition. So the supplements were able to deliver series of literary and scientific discoveries. I remember one delivery of central European literature, Hermann Broch, Joyce, Bertolt Brecht and Elias Canetti. For several years we keep on file the series on the History of Modern Astronomy. A teenager in Palmira newspapers could know where Prague was the city of Kafka, Robert Musil, Mahler, Schoenberg.

We could perceive readers. For example, in poor neighborhoods people preferred the Occidente; while the newspaper El Pais people prefer conservative customs in neighborhoods of Labor or Leisure. Reader’s cults divided between El Espectador and El Tiempo. And the common people read Space. Later come the Caleño, morbid old bought it to see naked women on the back. Over the years the newspapers look like the city and the vendors were multiplying their misery. That original classification of territories and the geography of power also changed. Who could fail to adapt buy bikes drawers and then came the motorcycles. Street vendors moved their offices, some began to sell lottery, like my father, others went to finishing school education.

The boy knew how authentic culture seller could hold a single sheet of paper, that the voices that spoke were wise men: Leon De Greiff, Lucas Caballero, Marta Traba, Garcia Marquez or philosopher Danilo Cruz Vélez. How many prospects opened up a world Palmira small, and an even smaller neighborhood and San Pedro; all the political economy that was developed in Colombia for half a century, came from the pen of Carlos Lleras Restrepo. The ideas, things and events seem much more over the centuries that week.

With what joy was written on the people! The newspaper in my house was always placed with the Bible and the Holy Rosary. Source of culture and devotion, the first permeate my life forever, the second, habits of Catholic families. My father would die at 39 years, but I read when I was twenty and old, plunged more deeply than the rapid and hasty youth. He would spend hours reading up half a day. All the newspapers report that impressed helped to decipher the letters and phrases, to be thoughtful in a gaze of reader who will never forget. Palmira fifty years ago people could read perfectly.

In my house as a child had newspapers, tobacco and coffee all day, many times when newspapers had found such scenes. Travel between Palmira, Florida, Meadow or Buga, in the waiting rooms of the station or sitting in the Forest City, were readers of newspapers. During the week my sales were lower than on Sundays. And among my favorite clients were those of El Espectador, always seemed to me more free thinkers, and more generous.

Are gone forever José Lozano, my father and some of my brothers. I have no idea of Mary, the seller of the Bolivar Park. Not many places have changed, the streets deteriorated, the Versailles seems frozen in time, saving changes in shape. I have no knowledge if the sellers morning at 4:30 am and at that time. . The walk to the center of Palmira, every morning we would sit with a cup of coffee while the dumplings were leaving two huge platters on wood.


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