Mark had only begun to realize the ruse the night before, as he lay in his bed and thought about what to do the next day – Friday. First of all, he knew he didn’t want to go to school. It was Spring in Baltimore, and the days were getting longer and warmer. But what to do with a whole day? He knew he needed money for weed, if nothing else; but how? The only Legit thing he knew to do was shoveling snow or cutting lawns. Since it was April now, the last snow had disappeared some time ago, and the grass hadn’t quite taken-off for the Summer yet, so it wasn’t in need of its first cutting.
And then there was the paperboy gig, but he told his district distributer that he didn’t want the job any longer. The hours, he said, interfered with his schoolwork. So, March was his last official month. The truth was that it was totally NOT worth the hassle – He would make 10% of the total money he collected, all for hours of backbreaking work every morning and evening. Weekends were the worst! No sleeping-in, he would wake at around 5:30 am to collect the papers and individually roll and band them for distribution. He would begin around 6 am and throw his last paper some 2 ½ hours later. On a few occasions, he would only deliver half of them and on a rarer few, none at all. This happened just this week, actually.
It was Monday, March 30, and as he knew he would soon no longer be responsible for paper deliveries, he decided to quit a day (or two) early. That was the day he decided he would stop delivering newspapers. Just like that. No worries. At fourteen years of age, he couldn’t quite understand why his distributor would be so upset over him missing one-day’s delivery. He informed him that he wasn’t feeling well and that he tried to call him but the line was busy. Over and over he pleaded with the boy to tell him what he had done with the papers that he didn’t deliver. Mark insisted that since he was sick and bedridden, someone must have stolen the bundle of newspapers from his front lawn, where they were dropped-off daily by the distributor.
It wasn’t until his parents arrived home for the evening that he realized the importance of the day. Why the distributor had been so livid and questioning, and why so many of his customers had called him asking for the Evening Addition of the Baltimore News-American – It seems that on Monday, March 30th of 1981 at 2:27 pm, US President Ronald Reagan was shot (along with several of his aids and Secret Service members), while he was entering his limousine after a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
This meant, that some 35 (now Historical) Newspapers headlining the attempted assassination of a sitting American President were all placed in a dumpster, behind a supermarket, of a strip-mall, in Northeast Baltimore. Mark had never even noticed the Bold headline: REAGAN SHOT! President Reagan went on to recover, of course, and left the hospital some 2 weeks later. The Baltimore News-American Newspaper, however, would not fare as well; founded in 1773 as the Maryland Journal and the Baltimore Advertiser, it had existed in some form of journalistic print for over 200 years to that point. One of the oldest Newspapers in the Nation, it would cease publication some two years later, in 1986.