Well, it’s 1973 and what is a 13-year-old boy to do to make some money?
Let’s see, you can mow yards in the hot summer and shovel snow in the cold winter. Or you can throw newspapers year around – let’s do that!!!
I started throwing papers on a route in my neighborhood the year that the paper name changed to the Morning Sun — 1973. Route #3 it was, at first, a section from Broadway to the Bypass on Quincy Street and the neighborhoods to the south of Quincy. Later I also picked up route #47 next to route #3 — some 250 papers total.
I really enjoyed getting up at 4 a.m., waiting on the papers to get dropped at my home on Woodland Terrace, rolling up all those papers, and then hitting the streets on my trusty Western Auto bicycle trimmed with every basket you could hang on the thing to put papers in.
On a good day I’d get back home early enough to crawl back in bed and get a little nap before I had to get up to get ready for school. Of course I arranged the throwing of the route so the last paper was at Quincy and Broadway so I could go by Merle Salisbury’s Daylight Doughnut shop and get a hot apple fritter right out of the deep fryer.
Oh, I had the normal fun of outrunning dogs so I rigged up a camera strobe to flash into their eyes to temporarily blind them so I’d have a chance to get away without getting one of my ankles gnawed off.
One time I was riding my motorcycle and throwing papers in a new neighborhood that didn’t have any streetlights on it yet. As I threw the paper at one house I noticed the Dr. Rhode’s Willys Army jeep wasn’t sitting in the driveway like it ALWAYS was as I threw the paper … turned around to look as I rode along the curb and BAM! I hit it head on going about 20 MPH. I flew over the jeep, papers flying – landed on my head (with helmet), lost my glasses and bloodied my nose.
I gathered up the papers, found my glasses somehow in the dark, and finished the route with the forks on my motorcycle twisted like a pretzel (the jeep wasn’t hurt of course). By the time I got home the phone was ringing off the wall with people wondering why there was blood all over their paper … Ouch!
The worst part of the paper route was COLLECTING. I hated that part, so I subcontracted with my little sister, Sharon, to go do it. I don’t think she liked it either, as a lot of times people were not home, especially down on JFK Street where college students lived, but I think she liked the money and just put up with it.
Needless to say my mother and father, Earl and Betty Ward, were a big help at times, especially in the winter snow when you had to drive (and sometimes walk) a lot of the routes. I couldn’t have done it without them. That’s for sure!
In 1976 I was awarded Carrier of the Month and in 1977 Carrier of the Year. I got to go to Topeka to meet Kansas governor Robert Bennett and even got to sit at his desk for a photo op.
I continued to throw papers for a total of six years. Being a paper carrier is something I think every teen should experience for at least a couple of years growing up. It taught me a lot about running a small business and it funded a lot of a teenage boy’s needs — like cars, motorcycles and musical instruments — some of which I still have today!
— Phil Ward
June 8, 2020