My husband and I enjoyed a very nice conversation yesterday about his years as a newspaper carrier. He was involved in delivering the Sunday out-of-town paper(s) in Hornell, NY, from September 1960 until August 1966. During that time period Hornell was around 15,000 people and it took ten carriers, on foot, to cover the city.
The boys each pulled a wagon, with the sides built up, that held editions from Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, and New York City. At each house he would put the papers in between the screen and front doors so nothing blew away, and the person getting the paper didn’t have to walk outside for their morning news. Some of the papers were more than an inch thick and some houses got more than one edition. After he delivered, which took three hours, then he had to retrace his steps to collect from each patron so he could pay for the papers that day. That was a lot of work for just over $4.00 profit.
As we talked he remembered the names of all the streets he covered, then explained what a pain it was to pull the heavy cart, with small wheels, through the snow; generally in the street because sidewalks weren’t shoveled, around cars and drifts stating at 6AM. Once he got his license he went to work at 4AM to drive to pick up the papers at the train station, take them to the newspaper distribution building, help sort and stuff, then deliver. By that time he was active in high school sports and also had a night time restaurant bus boy job, on top of being interested in dating. He laughed when he told of some Saturday nights he didn’t go to bed, then slept most of Sunday after he finished his route. At the end of the conversation we realized he has been working since he was twelve years old, in some capacity or another. That has been his hobby all along. And he’s still at it 55 years later, more than 40 hours a week, because he likes to.
We now live in a city where all newspapers are either put in your box, or in a bag and thrown somewhere in the driveway. I tried to Google if small towns still have boy carriers that walk, ride bikes, or pull carts but I couldn’t find any information. I’m guessing with how labor laws have changed, the paper carrier is an adult, riding in a car, but I’m not sure.
Next time you go out in your pajamas to get your paper, think about what time your carrier got up to deliver it and be thankful it arrives, rain, snow, fog or humidity!