I was a paperboy in Blue Earth, Minnesota for the Minneapolis Star & Tribune. In the winter of 1946-47 I was one of the paperboys who signed up a certain number of new subscribers and was awarded a free fifteen-minute ride in the newspaper's helicopter.
It was the first helicopter I had ever seen. We took turns, one-by-one, climbing in for our ride. There were only two seats, one for the pilot and one for the rider. It was like riding in a bubble, since my feet were on plexiglass, or glass, or plastic — I am not sure what the early models were made of — and I felt like I was floating on air. The day was quite cold, and it was windy. It was scary.
When, at the end of the ride, the pilot asked if I was ready to go down and I replied "Yes!" he descended so quickly I was startled and grabbed hold of him ... and he was so startled by me grabbing him that he almost lost control of the helicopter.
I delivered the Tribune, which was the morning paper. I had about 40 subscribers on my route. Sometimes I walked, but mostly I took my Schwinn bike, with the newspapers nestled in the basket. When it was blizzard conditions, my mother took me in the car.
I never rolled up the newspaper with a rubber band. My newspapers were never thrown. Instead, I marched each morning up to every subscriber's house and gently placed the newspaper inside their screen door. My father was a great believer in the value of delivering quality service, and he insisted that if I was going to be a paperboy, I would be the best the subscriber ever had. So I followed his instructions, and sometimes had to really struggle to open the screen doors when a snow drift had piled up against the door.
It was always a good feeling to warm up in front of the potbellied stove in the wooden newspaper shack (and it was a shack) after completing the route on those cold mornings. I think we were tougher then than we are now.
To a young lad on a paper route, the world at 5 or 6 a.m. is full of wonder. Being the only one up and about in my route area at that time in the morning, I was awed by the stark quietness and the Thomas Wolfe-type loneliness that permeated the early morning hours.
And on those beautiful mornings after an earth-cleansing nighttime rain or enveloped in the whiteness of freshly fallen snow ... I was glad to be alive.
— John Beisel, March 22, 2000
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This is a paperboy story I think is different. Happened in Big Spring, Texas about 1960. My son used to move sorta slow ... or would sometimes just stop to think. To collect for the papers by the week you had a little coupon you tore off each week when paid. Tommy was very sure, when collecting, about tearing out the coupons.
One day, I got a phone call, “Mom come pick me up! I was standing still tearing out my collection coupons and a dog hiked his leg and peed on me! I need to change pants.”
He is now 52 and living in Boca Raton, Florida. Has seven children and is expecting the eighth.
Also moves a little faster now.
— Nina Leslie Buckley, March 22, 2000
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I carried papers in 1934 and ‘35. I had just moved to Pittsburg and was a junior in high school. I did not have a regular route of my own but Mr. Slagle kept me busy carrying extra for other carriers — Paul Rhoads, Judson Wagner, Kenneth Blazer and others.
Paul was my cousin and he let me help him every evening I wasn’t busy, paying me ten cents a night — which gave me a little extra spending money. You could go to the show on Thursday night for a nickel at the Cozy ... and for 15 or 20 cents on Saturday night at the Colonial (and see an encore show also).
Paul did not actually need help, but did it as a favor. We folded our papers before leaving and rode our bicycles to his route which was west Martin, Washington and Adams streets. We threw the papers, but if they missed the porch, we would have to pick them up and place them where intended. Paul later bought a Model A Ford (for $19.00 as I remember) and we would buy our gas from Frank Bozick across the street from the Headlight and Sun for nine cents a gallon. The car came in handy, not only for his paper route but for our recreation as well.
As has been indicated, very few jobs were available in those days but John Fenimore, a prominent man in Pittsburg, and a cousin by marriage to Paul and me, was instrumental in getting Paul the route.
These are some of the fondest memories of my teenage years — as a paperboy.
— John Rogers Jr., March 22, 2000
Have a paperboy story to share? Send it to me at email@example.com or 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg, KS 66762. — J.T. Knoll