At the River’s Edge: Remembering the days of throwing the paper
Tomorrow is a special day of sorts for many of us in the newspaper business — and a lot of people in other professions, also — all of whom delivered papers.
It’s National Newspaper Carrier Day and it was created to commemorate the hiring of the very first newspaper carrier, 10-year-old Barney Flaherty, who delivered The New York Sun. He was hired Sept. 10, 1833.
As the story goes, the only job requirement Sun Publisher Benjamin Day had for young Mr. Flaherty was that he had to show he could throw a paper into the bushes of the homes to which he was delivering.
Luckily, that wasn’t one of the requirements I had way back in the last century when I was a paper carrier. For one thing, most of the houses in my hometown of Deering didn’t have bushes to aim for and, for another, if a paper was torn up and not bought by the resident, well, that was money out of my pocket.
Not much money, mind you; I was selling GRIT. Remember that one? Each week I’d get my delivery of GRIT newspapers, load up my bag, get on my bike with the banana seat and high-rise handlebars and head out in my town of 100 people and try to hawk a few papers. If memory serves correctly, I think the paper sold for 25 cents and I think I had a bundle of 25 GRITs. If I only sold 10, that was OK. I mean, back in those days $2.50 was a lot of money for a 12-year-old kid. That would buy a lot of stuff at Loy Cox’s grocery store. And at 10 cents a bottle at Alvin’s Service Station directly across the two-lane highway from the grocery store, I could afford to knock back several Sun-Drops until I had a huge bellyache and had to head for home.
Youngsters used to be a regular sight in the delivery of newspapers. Indeed, I noticed a television commercial for some kind of car that was featuring a young boy delivering a paper. Only in this ad the boy was riding in the comfort of the new car being driven by his dad, leaving the car to toss the paper and hop right back in. It was raining, you see. Didn’t want the youngster to get wet, I suppose.
This day honors paper carriers all over the world, adults and kids who are getting the news of the day, or the week, into the hands of the readers.
Hermann Advertiser-Courier and New Haven Leader Editor Buck Collier