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The Paper Boy

Al Howlett

About 1943 obtaining a paper route was considered excellent training and good way to learn about business. Obtaining a route was much sought after in those days as it was a way to make some money and learn how to manage it. In today's world a job out in all weather where you could make the equivalent of any where from 2 to 5 dollars in a week would be considered as some sort of slave labor. In those days if I had a dollar in my pocket that I could call my own I considered myself rich. Considering how to spend that hard earned cash taught a good lesson on how to get the most value for your money.
Many were the lesions learned as a paperboy that carried over into later life. There are a lot of people out there today who started on their way to a successful life from this beginning.

The Galt Daily Reporter had a paper route in Glen Morris that became available around that time and I was eager to take it on so I applied to the paper and got the job. I don't recall how many subscribers there were but they were on both sides of the river. It was a long walk to deliver papers around the village. Sometimes I would bribe my brother into taking the route on one side or the other.

The Reporter supplied you with a canvas bag with the "Reporter" printed on it to carry the papers in. It also had a pouch for the ticket book attached on one end. The ticket book was a way to account for and collect on at least one day a week the money owed for the paper. Each subscriber had a page in the book with perforated stubs that were torn off when payment was received. One of the stubs was given to the subscriber and the other one was submitted to the office with the money collected minus the small amount to the paperboy for the delivery. Well that's they way I think it worked but after over 60 years have passed by I might be a little off. Any way collection day was not always at the time of paper delivery as this was in the evening hours. I think I went out to collect on Saturdays and this was always an interesting education in people behavior. There was always someone who did not have change or would pay you next week. Another lesson learned, but most would pay up. Then there were those who liked to chat or try to see if you knew any gossip. There was the old lady who always had a riddle for you to solve before she paid up. "What is black and white and red all over?" The answer; "The newspaper" One other one she liked to test you with was, "If a boat is at the dock and the tide is coming in and the water will rise four feet, how high will the water rise on the boat"?

Delivering the paper to the subscriber could be a challenge at times. Allowances had to be made for weather. You could not leave the paper in a location that it might be damaged, by rain snow etc; The Papers would arrive on the LE&N train at around 5:30 pm at the stone station located at the end of the bridge over the Grand River. The bridge was the connection from one side of the village to the other. The conductor was a fellow named "Chappie" who liked to play tricks on the kids. After he helped any passengers from the train he would dash back up and get the bundle of papers and toss it at the waiting paperboy shouting, "catch". The other one was, "sorry they did not send any papers tonight". Then as he signaled the train departure from the top step he would retrieve the hidden bundle and toss it off.

After you got the bundle of papers you then had to fold them into individual copies so that they would land where they were tossed on the doorstep with minimal damage. The papers in those days did not have huge advertisement inserts as they do today so they were not all that hard to fold up.

One of the subscribers had a large St. Bernard dog that would meet you at the front gate with a tail waging and a big smile indicating that he was ready to help deliver the papers.Bernie's owner informed me that he had been trained in newspaper delivery and would help to carry the paper to the back door of the house. On the next delivery I handed Bernie the folded newspaper and accompanied him to the back door where he dutifully deposited the paper on the steps and barked his pleasure in helping out. On the next delivery Bernie was there as usual so I considered that I could reduce my effort by allowing Bernie to deliver the paper to the back door. As I continued on my route Bernie headed down the walk paper in mouth with a sideways glance at me. Bernie was miffed that I had not assisted him in the delivery and when he reached the back steps proceeded to chew the headlines into small bits. As I returned by the house later I was informed that I was required to accompany the dog in his duty. I had to replace the paper with an extra that we had on hand most days. Lesson learned, never trust an old dog that someone else trained.





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