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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

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.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Talking with some newspaper carriers of an earlier era

By Barry Schrader.................................June 2, 2009

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.
Contacting 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 and marketing.
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 DeKalb’s 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 newspaper’s 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.
But like 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.

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115