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  • I delivered newspapers from the age of 5 until I was 13. It was a family business, so to speak. At any given time, there might have been 3 or 4 different paper routes being run by my 4 older brothers and older sister, with 50 to 100 customers each. At 5, I earned a quarter for delivering papers to 15 customers for Ken, all within a block of our house.

    By age 8, I had my own morning route of 70, that required about 3 miles of walking each morning, up and down the steep hills of the South Hills area of Pittsburgh. I earned $12 - $15 a week, good money for an 8 year old back in the ‘60s!

    My oldest brother, Jim, was home from college for winter break. One night, he got home late and had forgotten his key. The house was locked up. There was a side door that led onto a landing on the cellar stairway. This door was unlocked, but the kitchen door up the stairs was locked. There were many hooks on the wall along this stairway, for coats, hats, mufflers, and paper sacks. Jim made a comfortable bed for himself on the landing out of the coats, and just settled down there for the night.

    I was always up well before the dawn to deliver my papers. I’d wander downstairs into the kitchen, unlock the kitchen door, and reach in to grab my paper sack and coat off a hook just inside the door. I would be the only one in the house stirring at that early time. On this morning, as I reached in to the darkness for my things, I heard a rustle from the landing, then I saw something move in the dark! A hand rose out of the darkness, attached to the most terrifying words I have ever heard - “Don’t Be Afraid!”

    To this day, I have never experienced utter fear and terror as I did in those next few moments. I immediately turned tale and started hauling my little 9 year old body towards the 2nd floor stairway, screaming my young head off, with whatever it was that moved right now lumbering right behind me, gaining ground! I took 3, 4 steps at a time as I flew up those stairs, sure I was running for my very life. My poor Dad, all 6 feet 3 inches of him, was there at the top of the stairs in his pajamas, looking bewildered as I just poured my self into his arms, shaking like a leaf, crying hysterically, “It moved…it moved!”

    Right behind me, up the stairs, came a sheepish looking Jim, all 6 feet 4 inches of him, trying to say “Pete – Pete – it’s only me”, but all I could hear was my own terrified screams, and my heart beating like a drum.
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