Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
We have had quite a few newspaper carriers over the years. Some were very good, others were so-so, and one or two were pretty lousy. None of them, however, were as good as the young lady who has delivered our newspaper for almost two years.
Her name is Svetlana, and I think she may have immigrated to the United States from Russia. No matter how early we get up or how lousy the weather is, our paper is there. It’s never in the bushes. It’s never in the walk or driveway. It’s always on the front stoop not far from our front door.
When we give Svetlana a tip or maybe some Christmas money, she gives us a hand written “Thank you” note the next day. They are really nice notes, and they make me believe that English is a second language for her.
Until recently, I had never actually seen her. She does her work before I get up in the morning. The only reason I know she exists is the newspaper a few inches from our door, plus her thoughtful “Thank you” notes now and then. And in winter, there are her footprints in the snow on our front walk.
Not long ago, I woke up early one morning, and opened the front door just as Svetlana was delivering the paper. I told her I was so glad to meet her, and I thanked her for putting our paper so close to the door.
The next morning, when it was raining really hard, do you know where I found our paper? She put it inside hour storm door so I didn’t even have to step out onto the porch. That’s the kind of paper carrier she is.
Delivering newspapers today is a lot different than it was when I delivered them in the 1940s. First of all, today’s paper is a lot smaller … both in page size and in thickness. The papers fit easily in those little plastic bags they use nowadays. I don’t like fiddling with the plastic bags, but they keep the paper dry on rainy days.
A lot of times, the paper comes with a host of printed advertising material. On some days, the pile of that stuff is a lot bigger than the newspaper itself.
When I was delivering papers in the 1940s, they didn’t have all those extra inserts. All of the ads were printed in the paper itself. The thickest of the daily papers was usually on Thursdays, when there were a lot of full-page ads for grocery stores and department stores.
The smaller size of today’s papers, coupled with the plastic bags, make it impossible to throw them very far, at least with any accuracy. So today’s carriers have to walk toward the house and then drop them someplace.
In my paper-delivering days, we folded the larger papers, and we could throw them quite a distance onto porches. But a good, tight fold was required. I could easily toss the paper onto almost all the front porches of my customers, and my tosses were pretty accurate.
There was one house on the south side of Elwood Avenue, I think it was where the little Cooper twins lived, that was sometimes a problem. The small front porch was quite a distance from the sidewalk, so sometimes the paper ended up in the shrubs.
The same house gave me another problem occasionally. A few times I threw the paper much too hard, and it ended up on the porch roof. Since I didn’t carry a ladder with me on my bicycle, I had to give them a second paper. That meant my dad didn’t get his paper that day.
You see, I received 52 papers each day, but I only had 51 customers. I took the other paper home with me when I finished my route. I usually put it in my dad’s easy chair. He didn’t pay me for that paper. He said it was my contribution to the family budget. Since we took both the daily and Sunday papers, it cost me 28 cents a week. I thought that should be against “child labor” laws.
When my dad got home from work and found no paper in his chair, he would say, “Okay, which one of your customers has my paper on his roof today?” Sometimes he would laugh after saying that, but other times I think he was a little peeved over not having his paper. I never saw anyone devour a newspaper the way he did. He followed the day-to-day progress of the war through the paper. The front page was almost always full of maps with bold black arrows, which showed troop movements and things like that.
I remember once, I think it was during the Battle of the Bulge, when he got really excited because the newspaper explained that we were sending General Patton into that battle. He was a big fan of General Patton.
All in all, I think I was a pretty good paperboy, in spite of those papers that now and then ended up on a porch roof. I think most of my customers were satisfied. I wasn’t as good as Svetlana, of course, but then who was?
Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can e-mail him at email@example.com
...For the full story, select an option below.