Newspaper delivery stories, eh? Mine are more like vignettes.
Like standing around with all the other delivery boys, at 5 a.m., picking up our papers from the distribution center, and folding and rolling our papers just so. Competing to see who could get the tightest wrap, thus producing the paper that could be thrown the farthest without it opening like a parachute and dismembering itself all over the front yard. By the way, using rubber bands to roll the papers ... was for rookies.
Taking pride in being able to reach into the Dayton Journal-Herald saddlebag stretched across my bike's handlebars, pick one out and throw (from 60 feet away) a perfect strike landing right in front of the door. All without breaking pedal momentum or losing control.
Imagining it was WWII, and the papers were actually captured German "Potato Masher" grenades that I was tossing into their foxholes. Bounces didn't count. Hitting the storm door was as good as a miss. The perfect technique resulted in a quiet "plunk" and "swoosh" as the paper landed and slid right up to the front door.
Collections were my nightmare, as they were with my other introverted friends. "Oh, you don't have any money? Well that's all right, pay me when you can." So my income was perpetually diminished by the customers who didn't pay — and I didn't have the courage to tell anyone.
Getting up at 4 a.m. on really cold, rainy, snowy days, hoping to hear, from my father's room, a rustling of activity that meant he would drive me around on my route. I don't remember any intimate talks or anything, but I fondly recall the experience of doing this thing together. Working together was the primary means for us to connect.
Being grateful the Journal-Herald was only a six day a week paper. The poor Dayton Daily News guys had to deliver those monstrous Sunday editions.
Over the years, all of us paperboys graduated to motorized delivery systems. My friend "Hoopy" Hossler had a Whizzer motorbike. Danny Doom (who's father owned the local mortuary (appropriately called the "Doom Memorial Home"), rode a Vespa motor scooter and I had a Zundapp Scooter. Incidentally, The Doom Memorial Home was highlighted in later years in an edition of Ripley's Believe It or Not — not only for its unusual name, but also because, as it was being razed, two workers were killed by a fall into a couple of open caskets.
The town where this all took place was a little burg called New Carlisle, Ohio. (I'm not sure that there is an Old Carlisle anywhere nearby), best known for being the location of one of the banks that John Dillinger hit, and next best known for the annual tomato festival. Just think of the status the tomato king and queen carried!
Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee 4-12-2000
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My cousin, John Rogers, sent me a copy of a Morning Sun article titled "Peddling the old Headlight-Sun." I have no idea when this might have been published, but it brings back many fond memories.
Back in about 1934 or 1935, when Dewey Slagle was circulation manager, he was kind enough to give me a job delivering the Headlight. My route was Washington, Adams and Jefferson from Broadway to Lakeside Park.
I was particularly grateful to Dewey since my father in was in the Tubercular hospital in Norton, Kansas and my mother and I existed on the $5 a week I earned.
The paper was 15 cents a week and haircuts were 15 cents so a barber on south Broadway cut my hair and I gave him the paper. I remember a nice Black lady who some days would have only four or five pennies ... but at the end of the month she would always make up the difference. These were the ‘good old days."
I moved from Pittsburg owing either Mr. Slagle or the Headlight $15 or $16, and this has haunted me over the years, so I am now enclosing my check for $25 to pay this old debt.
Thank you for allowing me to remove this from my conscience.
San Antonio, Texas 4-12-2000
Note: Mr. Rhoad’s check was placed in the Morning Sun ‘Newspapers in Education Fund’ which provides newspapers free to area schools to encourage reading, writing and community involvement. If you have a paperboy story to share, you can send it to me at email@example.com or 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg, KS 66762.