Monday, August 12, 2013

My first newspaper job


Years before I began my reportorial career at the Tipton Tribune, soon moving up to The Indianapolis News, I was a newsboy, carrying the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier.

I started during the summer of 1966 with about 55 customers. The Journal & Courier was an evening paper in those days (it switched to a morning paper in the mid-1980s because most people want their paper in the morning).

The newspaper bundles were shipped the 20 miles or so from Lafayette to Delphi by railroad, so we carriers picked our papers up at the Monon Railroad Depot just northwest of the Delphi courthouse square.

I had the obligatory canvas newspaper bag that I loaded with papers and stuffed into the basket on the front of my bicycle. Some kids rubber banded their papers for throwing, but I just folded mine in thirds.

Those were the days when home delivery meant going to the door and placing the paper in a hanger bracket on the mailbox or putting it between the storm door and the regular door – none of this crap of bagging it and throwing it in the driveway.

journalcourier02Judging from the profile above, I guess I did a fair job. I managed to win a weekend trip to Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago.

We got to climb around on a destroyer, were forbidden to photograph the “hedgehog” anti-submarine weapons, watched the sailors parade in formation and saw a nifty performance by the Blue Angels. We slept in a barracks and ate in the chow hall. (That’s me in the front of the chow line.)

I thought it was pretty damned cool.

The worst part of the job, other than having to walk the route on snowy winter evenings when it got dark early, was collecting from customers. The paper only cost 35 cents a week, but it was amazing how many people would refuse to answer the door and tried to beat me out of my money.

I guess that was part of the learning experience too.

I only had the route a couple of years before the social pressures of being in junior high became too much of a distraction.


I looked pretty relaxed and confident, didn’t I?

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