I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Talking with some newspaper carriers of an earlier era
By Barry Schrader.................................June
With many newspapers changing their delivery systems, among
them the Daily Chronicle, I thought it a good time to talk with
some news boys from earlier generations and the experiences
they had. I use the term boys because in the early
days girls were not hired to carry papers, just like they were
not detasseling corn until World War II.
the son of the late Chronicle publisher Eddie Raymond, who is
also named Ed, I learned about his experiences as a carrier at
the newspaper when he was in elementary and junior high school.
Ed is retired and now lives in Windsor, Conn. His route was one
of the best, carrying papers along Lincoln Highway to stores
and apartments above them. The good thing about that route with
some 55 customers was ease of collecting from a business instead
of a residence.
This 1900 photo, found in the Joiner History Room archives,
shows a group of DeKalb Chronicle paper carriers a century ago
dressed like boys of that era. Notice those stylish caps, and
one hat. (Joiner History Room photo)
A sideline was magazine sales. The kids enticed their customers
to buy magazine subscriptions and earned rewards from the paper
for the volume of sales. Ed and his friend, John Countryman,
got to go to the Indianapolis 500 in 1957 along with several
other carriers for their sales prowess, Ed recalls. He said they
also could earn an orange-colored Honor Carrier bag
for going six months without a complaint and another six months
meant winning an Honor jacket from the paper. If
you managed to go two years with no delivery complaints, you
got a $25 U.S. savings bond.
Ed also got some
experience reporting in high school covering Barbs games. He
remembers going down to the Locust Street newspaper office and
fielding phone calls on Friday nights from readers who wanted
to know the final scores of the games. Instead of earning a journalism
degree at Northwestern, he went into corporate communications
His friend John Countryman, now
a circuit court judge, also had a newspaper route about the same
number of years. His territory was larger, some 100 homes ranging
from Taylor Street south along Fourth in DeKalb. One of his business
customers was DeKalbs then-Mayor J. Clayton Pooler, who
had a gas station and grocery in that area. The circulation manager
was Jack Wilson, and his assistant was Roger Warkins (he later
became the newspapers publisher) who counted the money
as the boys turned in their collections each Saturday at the
office. John said they collected 35 cents per house each week
most of the time he had a route and was lucky to get a 5-cent
tip from his better paying customers. He put much of his earnings
away, along with money from later jobs as a detasseler for DeKalb
Ag and bag boy for A&P supermarket, and used it to pay his
way through law school.
They were in good company;
some of notables who once had paper routes include Warren Buffet,
Martin Luther King Jr. and John Wayne.
the days of detasseling corn, newspaper delivery by kids is just
about over, so new jobs for young people must be identified.
Looking back fondly, one old editor commented that, We
spend huge amounts of money to pay reporters, editors, photographers
and all the production people. We buy expensive and complicated
machines and huge presses. And whether or not you read this product,
the (success of the) newspaper comes down to if a 12-year-old
kid brings it to you.
I was not able to
find out when the Daily Chronicle began employing girls as carriers,
so if you have knowledge of that, please send me a note.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115