Neighbors is an occasional series, profiles of people who live or work in Bolton Hill, showing the talent and diversity of those among us. Nominations are welcome; email email@example.com.
If you’re a newspaper reader and you hear someone hurrying along on your front sidewalk or near your steps in the dark at 4:30 or 5 a.m., be glad that he is there.
Reginald Scott, 47, has been delivering the Baltimore Sun seven days a week in the early morning for 18 years now. His route previously included about half of Bolton Hill but for the past year and going forward he delivers papers to all of Bolton Hill and a swath of the city that stretches west and also takes him into southwest Baltimore.
He delivers The Sun, but also the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and USA Today. In Bolton Hill and one other neighborhood, down around Pigtown, he says, many of his customers get two or even three of the papers, especially on weekends, when his delivery day is longer and more complicated. The New York Times is the most in demand after The Sun. In some neighborhoods, demand for any newspaper is sparse, with only two or three customers.
“I get up at 2 a.m., feed my dogs and take them walking, then leave for the warehouse at 3. I pick up my papers there and then get started. I bag and sort them in the car, not at the warehouse,” he said. The distributors for whom Scott works provide the plastic weather bags into which each paper is wrapped. “I pay for my gas and provide the vehicle,” he said.
Often, he has brought his Bullmastiff, Bruno, along with him. He breeds dogs and has two Bullmastiff puppies for sale at the moment. On weekdays the deliveries take about four hours; on Sundays it stretches to six. Then he heads to his home in West Baltimore. Weekdays he takes his nine-year-old son to school and tries for a quick nap before heading to his second job. He’s a grill cook at the Cracker Barrel restaurant near Thurgood Marshall BWI airport.
That second job can add up to as many as 35 hours in seasonal weather, but these days it is only 20 hours a week. He has worked there for five years. “I love to cook,” he said. For a dozen years earlier, he was manager at a McDonalds, but the long hours conflicted with his need to support his daughter (and now his son) in school activities. The daughter, 22, works with her mother at a federal agency.
A Baltimore native, Scott is a graduate of Woodlawn High School in the county. He followed his brother into newspaper deliveries, initially delivering on a bicycle. He likes the work routine, except for inclement weather. He said he usually starts his deliveries in the Bolton Hill area because people get up early and, before the pandemic, many left for work or the MARC train early. He tries to do south Baltimore later, he said, because if he leaves papers on the steps there too early, they disappear.
“They take them, and they read them. I actually caught a guy a couple of times there stealing papers. I told him, ‘You see me most days. Just ask and if I have an extra paper, I will give it to you.’”
Cutbacks in the quality and the size of the Baltimore Sun, a once-great newspaper now in serious decline, has led to a loss of subscribers and, for Scott, revenue. He said he once could count on $900 a week from his deliveries but it has dropped down to below $600. Once the competing new Baltimore Banner starts up that could cut his revenue further. All of the papers, including The Sun, now are printed in Delaware. Until last month they were produced in south Baltimore.
“I’m here as long as they’re printing.” He said he likes the work and “it pays my bills.” He also enjoys home improvement work and would welcome a full-time opportunity for that sort of employment.
– Bill Hamilton