Talkative ‘hawker’ sells news and makes headlines

Street Stories

FALL RIVER, MASS. (WPRI) — Like the paperboy, the street corner newspaper “hawker” has all but disappeared.

At North Main Street and President Avenue in Fall River, Richard “Hollywood” Botelho still serves as an active and talkative throwback.

He started in the early 1990s when the Fall River Herald News was covering Mayor John R. Mitchell and the New England Patriots were searching for a great quarterback.

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” Hollywood says to a kid in a customer’s back seat. “Go Patriots. They have to win four in a row.”

The front page may not feature good news every day, but it is served with a smile from Hollywood.

“They’re not just customers,” Hollywood says. “They’re friends.”

If you’re concerned about him working bare-handed in the cold from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m., don’t be.

“Good weather today,” he says to another customer. “I want the snow.”

“Happy New Year,” the customer says, fist-bumping his frosty hand.

“Same to you,” Hollywood replies.

The nickname has nothing to do with dreams of fame, although Hollywood did tell us he always wanted to own a racehorse.

His monicker is tied to an old Dallas Cowboy.

“I liked the guy Thomas ‘Hollywood’ Henderson,” he says.

You can hear his passion for sports in his banter.

“Like Belichick said,” he yells to someone across the street. “Do your job.”

He offers another driver some intel about the Green Bay Packers.

“The Lions had you,” he said.

“Hollywood!” a driver yells before stopping. “What happened to your Patriots the other day?”

Hollywood explains how they blew it when “they got away from the running game.”

“They had 135 yards, Mike,” he added.

As Mike drives away, he says, “Hollywood is the nicest guy in the world.”

Customers enjoy him so much they would even pass up a green light for a chat, something one woman did while telling Hollywood he missed a good holiday party.

“Nobody told me,” he says. “Happy New Year.”

Hollywood feels the same way about his customers.

“I know what time they’re going to show up. If they don’t show up, I think something’s wrong,” he explains. “I saw their kids growing up. I go to their sporting events.”

Hollywood says he hopes he has another five to 10 years of hawking the Herald News from that Fall River corner.

“I love it,” he says. “That’s why I look forward to coming here.”

Email Walt at wbuteau@wpri.com with your story ideas and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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