Parkite delivered morning paper to William Randolph Hearst
Salvador Chaidez got a job delivering the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in east L.A. when he was eight years old. The year was 1937. He worked for the Hearst newspaper syndicate, owned by William Randolph Hearst, during the halcyon days of American print journalism, just short of 30 years.
Seated at the dining room table of his comfortable Silver Springs home, the octogenarian recounts his story with the enthusiasm of a man half his age. "My parents were just kids when they left Mexico in 1910 to escape the revolution there. They came up through New Mexico and Arizona and eventually wound up in Los Angeles. I was born in 1929, the year of the big stock market crash and start of the Great Depression, We were poor, like most everybody else. There were six of us kids and we all worked as soon as we could to help support the family. I really didn’t have a childhood."
Chaidez was up at dawn every morning to deliver papers before bicycling to school. He attended Catholic schools through high school, graduating from Cathedral High. "The nuns were great, very strict but very compassionate. They really kept me on the straight and narrow."
He says the world seemed smaller back then. "At the Examiner, everybody knew everybody in the office and we all got along. I was just a kid and everybody called me Sal, even Mr. Hearst," he recalls. "Because the war was on, there was a shortage of workers. So I delivered the morning paper to Mr. Hearst whenever he was in town. One day in 1941 he called me into his office and said I should get a car and deliver the paper that way instead of on my bicycle. I was just 12 years old! I said I couldn’t afford a car and couldn’t even drive. He called up the Ford dealership in town and got me a brand new car and I got a special driver’s license just to deliver papers. The best thing about it was that I could get a larger ration of gasoline for my car than most people. Whenever the family car was low on gas, I’d go fill up my work car and siphon it off into Dad’s car," he grins.
Chaidez married in 1950, but never left his hometown neighborhood in East L.A.
When the 1965 Watts riots disrupted newspaper delivery in the area, Chaidez reluctantly retired and bought a liquor store in downtown Los Angeles. Eighteen years later he sold the liquor stores after the infamous Rodney King riots. "Ironic," he observes. "A riot got me out of the newspaper business and a riot got me out of the liquor business." Restless by nature, Chaidez worked a variety of retail and newspaper jobs before being recruited by the fledgling Orange County Register in 1994 to help start and circulate a Spanish language version of the newspaper. He finally retired for good and moved to Park City in 2005 to be closer to two of his far-flung children. His son, Kevin, lives in Park City several months of the years and his daughter, Diane, lives and teaches school in Montana. Another daughter, Evelyn, lives in Hawaii.
Chaidez has been a runner all his life, "I ran cross-country and track in high school. We used to train by running around the hilly area where Dodger Stadium now stands," he says. He and his wife were founding members of the South Coast Road Runners in the mid-1980s. He’s run about 50 marathons, including the Boston marathon twice and the original 26.2-mile run from the village of Marathon to Athens, Greece. "We used to plan our vacations around running events." he adds.
Heart bypass surgery and a pacemaker in recent years have slowed Chaidez, but not by much. At age 84, he still runs about three miles every morning. "I always start my runs to the east, toward the rising sun," he says. His house sits only a few feet off the Willow Creek trail, so it’s an easy commute to the track. The veteran runner transitions to the indoor track at the Basin Recreation Center after the snow flies, where he combines morning runs with casual conversation. Chaidez is easy to talk to and morning chats are never dull, say fellow runners.
His other great passion is gardening. Since moving into his home eight years ago, he’s gradually morphed his original, grass-filled yard into a diverse showcase of flowerbeds, ornamental plants and fruit trees and a veritable sanctuary for birds. "I call it collage landscaping," he chuckles. His crowning achievement last summer — a towering, colorful array of giant sunflowers in his backyard. "They were almost 10 feet high, hard to grow them that big in Park City." Chaidez boasts.
Bird feeders surround the house and Chaidez estimates he feeds about 200 birds every day, year-round. A row of chunky blue spruce trees in the backyard provide welcome winter cover for his avian visitors.
"I’ve got a good life here," Chaidez says. "I’m passionate about nature. When I go back to L.A. now, I can’t wait to get back here. Sure, I was born and grew up there, but the place has changed so much. Why would I want to live there? This is my home now."
- Favorite activities: Gardening, running, reading
- Favorite foods: Chili rellenos at Chubasco’s. "Best I’ve ever tasted and authentic as they get."
- Favorite reading: Nonfiction, historical novels
- Favorite music: Big bands and opera
- Bucket list: "I want to see the new Panama Canal."
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at email@example.com
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