Welcome to the Paper Carrier USA Project

CC-intro-picLegions 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

CC-editor-picA 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.

The Rewards

Rewards-category

Dreamin’ of a Green and Silver Christmas

      Dreamin’ of a Green and Silver Christmas Were paperboys even aware of miserable December days: thick fog, deep snow, dangerous ice? Why appear cheerful with Jack Frost sneaking around corners, attacking ears and toes? When November was … Read more

Carriers at Work

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The Canvas Carryall

To a child of limited means, in dire need of funds plus the need for fun and freedom, sporting a canvas newspaper bag became his answer. The grey, sturdy bag, advertising the name of the newspaper company, was significant for … Read more

History

History-category

Extra! Extra!

A rascal in his rakish newsey cap and worn knickers, clutched his next meal under his arm. Oh, not to eat the newspapers but to eat once he sold his papers. His raucous yells, regardless of a sore throat, his … Read more

Challenges

Hazards-category

Distractions, Disasters, Dangerous Encounters

Plop a paper on a porch. Nothing to it. Just do it every day making the daily routine monotonous. Until the routine ruptured. Dodge pot holes, swerve around raised man-hole covers, clear the curb, duck for low tree limbs and … Read more

Newspapers

Newspapers - category

The Daily Paper – a Town’s Most Perishable Commodity

“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

Carriers & Families

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A Family Alliance

Share a bed, share the bathroom. Share clothes, chores, coughs, chicken pox. Families were designed for sharing. Even more so when large families managed paper routes. Mark began with younger Mike helping. After Mike ran the route he passed it … Read more