Amazing how one topic in a column spawns another, which
is the case when I wrote about the bygone days at the Daily Chronicle.
I have written about David Miner before when he turned
his house into a Christmas of yesteryear display. He filled three
floors with old-time toys, decorations and mechanical marvels
he made himself, just for the joy of celebrating the holiday
Recently I found out Miner is probably the ultimate example
of a successful paper carrier, delivering Chronicles afternoons
from the fourth grade through high school. His sister and brothers
also had long-running routes.
His route served as many as 100 customers, including the
Chicago Daily News, which he also handled in later years. He
earned the coveted Honor Carrier blue jacket and other incentive
awards for his entrepreneurship. He worked the upscale neighborhood
north of the NIU campus where many Northern faculty and administrators
lived, so the tips werent bad either.
In this 1955 photo David Miner, at left, was 13, his
sister Barbara, was 7 and brother Donald, 12. All of them had
paper routes, but David held his the longest, from 4th grade
through high school. They also had an older brother Fred who
had a route. (Provided photo)
Miner mentioned some of his prominent customers, such as NIU
President Leslie Homes, three deansRomeo Zulaff, J. R.
Hainds and Ernie Hansonwell-known faculty members like
Earl Hayter, Duke Bischoff and Hugh Jameson, coach Ralph McKenzie
(President Ronald Reagans coach at Eureka College), Mayor
J. Clayton Pooler, Police Chief Vic Sarich, and furniture store
owner Willard Wirtz whose son became US Secretary of Labor in
the LBJ administration.
One name caught my attentionBob Brigham, after whom
the NIU football field is named. I know his widow Gert, so called
and asked if she remembered Miner. She spoke highly of him, recalling
how he would park his bike on her sidewalk, come up on the porch
after rubber-banding the paper, and then hang it on the doorknob.
He was one in a million, she exclaimed.
Inquiring about the business side of the job, I learned
that in those days the paper cost subscribers 25 cents a week
and each carrier had to collect door to door. Eighteen cents
of that went to the Chronicle with the carrier keeping seven
cents. The kids then went back to the Chronicle, at that time
located on Lincoln Highway near the intersection with North First
Street, where they turned in their earnings to the circulation
department. Miner remembered a teenager named Roger Warkins who
counted the money. Much later, Warkins became publisher of the
Chronicle and died just last year.
A large route like Miners included 100 homes, and
he could earn $7 a week. That added up to $364 a year, plus tips,
a decent sum for a kid back in the 1950s. He said most of it
was put aside for college.
Since he was such a reliable worker, many of his customers
hired him to mow lawns, shovel snow, and even gave him the key
to their house so he could feed their pets while they were away.
Now that is really trustworthy!
Miner said that his newspaper route and related odd jobs
taught him a lotgood salesmanship, responsibility handling
money, perseverance in collecting, and the importance of building
trust and good service.
I know there must be a hundred other former carriers around
this area who can relate similar experiences from their days
By the way, after my column on the Chronicle and its former
employees I heard from another Chronicle alumnus Jim McCann,
who reminded me I had the wrong location for the newspaper plant
in the 1950s and 60s; it was at 812 E. Locust Street, not on