A national holiday has come and gone with little or no notice from the public.
The holiday was National Newspaper Carriers Day. I’ll go a step further — bet you didn’t know that there is a Carrier Hall of Fame!
My first job was as a carrier for our hometown newspaper, the McAlester News Capital in Oklahoma. I was 15 when I answered an ad in the paper for a carrier in our neighborhood. My parents encouraged me to apply. It was not that we needed the income but was more of a “growing up” experience for me.
A brief interview at the newspaper office included inquiries about ability, transportation (bicycle?), family and school, and I was hired. Six days per week, my allotment of newspapers was delivered to a designated location. I was provided a list of about 50 subscribers I was to serve.
Ninety percent of the time, the newspaper had six pages or less, which allowed the carriers to twist them into a star-shaped fold for easy throwing. We were furnished a canvas bag, which we carried over one shoulder. Riding my bike, no hands of course, I could fold and throw the newspapers as I made my route, rain or shine. The objective was to throw the paper as close to the front door as possible. Carriers became very efficient, though some papers landed in flower beds or other places, which brought complaints from subscribers.
Sometimes I would throw papers at a home where a little girl played in the front yard. I made a game of trying to hit her with the paper but not to hurt her. We married 65 years ago!
Carriers also learned about finances. Once a month, it was our responsibility to collect from subscribers and then settle up with the newspaper accounting department.
The old collection story goes that the homeowner threw a dime in the flower bed, another under the porch and another on the roof — indicating that was where his paper had been delivered during the past month.
The Carrier Hall of Fame includes a lot of names you will recognize —Walt Disney, Warren Buffett, John Wayne, Carl Sanburg — to name a few.
Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to the Human Condition at firstname.lastname@example.org or The Advocate, EatPlayLive, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810. There is no payment, and stories will be edited.