$1 for 3 months
$1 for 3 months

PAPERBOY CHRONICLES: Throwing newspapers – cool or a bummer?

J.T. Knoll
J.T. Knoll, circa 1959

For what little they are probably worth, my memories of paperboys bring to mind Cushman scooters and papers folded in a mysterious square fashion that sailed much like a Frisbee from the hands of the paperboy.

An experienced "thrower" could be deadly accurate as I can attest to either your brother John or Ken Colloit hitting my Nonna's porch with remarkable consistency, as it was several feet from the road and not a very large opening. This is the old house her and my grandpa used to live in, prior to building the new one that currently houses offices for the Frontenac school district. Not to mention that there was a tree or two blocking the way.

I was fascinated by the method of folding the paper in a square fashion and had Ken attempt to show me how to do it. Never mastered the art, I must admit. I don't remember what I thought was cooler the folding of the paper or the Cushman Eagle motor scooters.

I never had the experience of being a paperboy, as my dad always seemed to have plenty of work for me to do at Pittsburg Pottery. I am sure you can relate to that from your college career there. However, I did remember the Cushmans and square papers, which seemed to give way to pickup trucks, rolled papers, and orange plastic tubes that required individual insertion of the paper rather than "throws".

Anyway, that is my two cents worth. Thanks for the memories and I hope, perhaps, I may have jogged a few for you.

— Mark Matarazzi, February 9, 2000

Note: Paper throwing back then was, indeed, an art — one very much a product of the fold, which was, in turn, dependent on the number of pages in the paper.

If the paper was too small, a creative, double-tight, rectangular fold was in order, else the paper would float, catch too much air, and come apart halfway to the porch — or worse, come to rest on the roof — which, technically, qualified for delivery but didn’t much impress the customer.

If the paper was too large, you could barely tuck it in to complete the fold — resulting in a paper that you had to lob from short range like a shot putt ... carefully, else it could do some real damage to plants, porch furniture, windows and storm doors.

The perfect size was around twenty or so pages. It folded into a tight square that did, indeed, sail. But unlike a Frisbee, its arc could be counted on to curve first left, then right at long distances — which required a carefully calculated point of release or it might miss the porch altogether.

Even the best of folds and calculated throws could, on a windy day, catch a gust and end up on the roof, which, if you didn’t have any extra papers, required hustling papers from other paperboys, giving them your family’s paper ... or, sometimes, peddling off in hopes that the customer had a ladder and wouldn’t call the paper office to complain. – J.T. Knoll

• • • • •

We had three generations of paperboys in Frontenac — my older brother, John, myself, and my brother J.T. I enjoy the stories printed here but, personally, I have to say I hated everything about delivering newspapers … except for the extra spending money.

I hated getting up in the morning early. I hated the cold weather and trying to ride a bicycle in the snow. I hated the summer heat. I hated collecting.

That’s not to say I wasn’t an entrepreneur, but I preferred my CLOVERINE SALVE route, selling greeting cards, selling apples from our backyard tree, selling old comic books to Frank Prete’s barber shop, selling chances on cakes that I would bake with my younger brother, J.T. (we would, most times, eat the cake), selling Christmas trees out of our garage, selling flower and vegetable seeds door to door, selling the Grit newspaper and selling fireworks on the corner of McKay and Cayuga in Frontenac.

Later on I worked as a cook at Dairyland in Frontenac, A&W in Pittsburg, Ace’s Truckstop Café on 69 Highway and Gary Bartelli’s ten for a dollar hamburgers joint.

As far as I’m concerned J.T. can have the routes and the paperboy chronicles. I preferred the kind of selling where I determined my own hours and could move at my own pace – or working a job where the customers came to me.

— Steve Knoll, June 20, 2020

If you have a paperboy story to share, you can send it to me at or 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg, KS 66762.