Brinkman’s Greenhouse on East First Street was a customer of mine, and their house was on the street, and the business was behind the house. Once behind the house, they required me to go to the business building, open the door and walk the paper to a small office they had within the building and lay the paper on the step of the office. While there were some lights on the streets, once I went past their house there was no more light. When I opened the door of the building, it was pitch black and I could see nothing. They stored all their business trucks in the building and left them parked randomly each night and I would run into trucks as I was trying to approach the office. I guess I wasn’t smart enough to take a flashlight. Oh yes, they had dogs that chased me all the way back to the building and all the way back out to First street. I finally got tired of feeling my way through the building, and just started opening the door and throwing the paper in. I got a few complaints from them but I never went into the building again.

Prisoners of war and a madman

My route took me past the train station on Seventh and Michigan, and several times I would see a passenger train standing at the station at one a.m. with all the windows covered or blacked out and soldiers with machine guns standing on each platform between the train cars. I suspected, in later years, that these were trains loaded with German prisoners of war being transported to prison camps somewhere in the U.S.

At one time, there was a report of a man escaping from an insane asylum nearby in Missouri. I was very nervous going out in the middle of the night with this person running free. One morning there was a short article in the newspaper that said that he was thought to have been seen in the Pittsburg area. I read this as I was folding my papers before I left the newspaper office so I was increasingly vigilant as I left to deliver my papers. Midway through my delivery, I left Fourth street, which was fairly well lighted, and made my way down Putnam Street to deliver a paper. Putnam was very dark and there were no streetlights. As I approached the house, I detected, in the darkness, someone running behind a tree, and then over behind another tree. I panicked ... and recalling that I had seen a milkman delivering milk just a block from where I was, I turned around and rapidly rode to the milkman’s truck. I stopped him and told him about the escapee and showed him the article in that morning’s newspaper. He believed me, and opened his glove box, and removed a pistol and his flashlight. Then he went with me back down the street to confront the "mad man." As we approached the house, we could see the man darting behind a tree in the dark. The milkman focused his flashlight on him and aimed his pistol at him and shouted "What are you doing there?", which brought a response from the culprit "I am looking for my newspaper.” I threw the newspaper at him and hurriedly left the area.

Cold and ice

If the streets were icy, it was very difficult to keep my bicycle upright, so many times I delivered my papers on foot which took much longer. I was not able to go back to bed before going to school if I delivered on foot. One night I slipped and fell off my bicycle on the ice on Seventh Street just south of the railroad station. As I hit the street, my papers fell out of my basket and out of the paper bag and slid down Seventh. I spent several minutes retrieving my papers and putting them back in the paper bag and back into my basket so I could continue my route. Once I wired bottle caps to my tires with the sharp edges of the bottle caps on the bottom to hopefully give me more traction on the ice. Unfortunately, this method did not work so I soon abandoned it.

On the coldest of winter mornings, our feet would get very cold. Once we arrived at home, we turned the gas kitchen oven on and then sat on a chair with our booted feet in the oven until they warmed up. Once they were warm, we would remove our boots and go to bed.

Calling it quits

By the spring of 1945, I was tiring of getting up in the middle of the night (and I am sure my school work was suffering as I quite often went to sleep in school), so I decided I was going to quit delivering papers and gave notice. After about a month, they had not found a replacement for me, so I decided I had given them enough time and the next Sunday morning I just stayed in bed. I guess my brother Bill must have told them what I was doing, and they called me. I told them they had enough time, so I just quit. They next called my parents, who convinced me to go ahead and carry my papers. This must have worked as they found a replacement within a week.

— Jim McCabe, July 5, 2000

If you have a paperboy story to share, you can send it to me at jtknoll@swbell.net or 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg, KS 66762. — J.T. Knoll