- For paperboys, money didn't buy happiness. It bought food, fun, freedom, a bike, comic books and school clothes.
Welcome to the Paper Carrier USA Project
Legions of children porched newspapers to folks who expected doorstep delivery as conveniently as radio programs. In the mid-twentieth century 500,000 youngsters ran paper routes from Alaska to Florida, Maine to California and everywhere in between. Their numbers increased and by 1980 nearly one million youth delivered the latest news. Oops, sometimes late.
The paperboy, a likeable kid next door, was familiar to all. With the image of a friendly Norman Rockwell character, this child resided in the heart of American towns, in the heart of the American century.
Were you a paperboy? Or your brother, father, sister a newspaper carrier? Grandparents attest to their childhood as a simpler slower time. Was this true for the paperboy? Is the accountable, reliable standard of past carriers exact or an exaggeration?
Former paperboys reveal difficult experiences. Fast registered as the standard rate since speed was a priority not safety. Scurrying to deliver papers, children braved unleashed dogs, faced extreme weather.
A boy balanced his bicycle with a heavy lopsided load, balanced his time, his profits to costs, common sense against nonsense. In small bodies encircled with big spirits, these mere boys in men’s boots, marking daily footsteps, left an imprint on the golden era of youth delivering newspapers.
Today details are disappearing from what ordinary boys and girls enjoyed and endured as they carried to and collected from customers. And the best, celebrated rewards from a first job.
A Significant Record
A monotonous routine. Mere child’s task. Usual first job. A youngster’s paper route was the most common steady work for youth prior to the 1990’s. And this prevalent method of earning money was neither insignificant nor a slow walk around town.
Join hundreds of former carriers from across the United States who told their incredible stories of being a paperboy. Have fun delving into details wrapped in the sounds, smells and sights of yesterday’s streets. Your reliability and accountability were significant along with your physical, social and financial accomplishments. The culture of the children, their community, the newspaper company—in this you can disclose facts that a census report doesn’t tell.
Reclaim remnants of your short job stint in the formative years serving as a paperboy with your mistakes, misdeeds and eventual maturity. Lessons learned as a paper carrier left an imprint on a child’s life, and in spite of the criticism by child-labor reformers that carriers were exploited, they actually thrived exploring opportunities.
We’ll never return to legions of paperboys, but should the capability and reliability in youth be diminished or dismissed? In just a generation, or two, we’ve slipped from adolescents being independent and self reliant down to kids now being overprotected and over paid with generous allowances. Help preserve the history of twentieth century paper carriers.
“Keep yesterday’s?” “Naw, toss it.” Did the question refer to a cinnamon roll, a donut, milk left on the porch? No, the town’s least expensive, most common and most perishable commodity is tossed out each day as the latest edition … Read more