THE HOLIDAY: Newspaper Carrier Day is celebrated in the United States and honors Barney Flaherty, the first newspaper carrier (or paperboy) hired in 1833, as well as all current newspaper carriers. It is celebrated on September 4, the anniversary of Flaherty's hiring by Benjamin Day, publisher of the New York Sun. More
THE ART: I guess this piece is what we might call a found object. It’s a Xerox (remember those?) of a paper newspaper clipping dated 7-22-64 in my grandmother Mary Louise's handwriting. The streak across the illustration is most likely a crayon scribble (mine).
From the 1920s through the 1980s—when America’s great newspapers started shutting down—the Des Moines Tribune "Front Row” columnist Elizabeth “Beanie” Clarkson Zwart was a newspaper woman of the finest order. She famously said, “The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.”
Anyway, this column of hers is special to me, because it’s about my dad. It reads:
As close to dawn as he can make it every Sunday, a 14-year-old carrier boy wheels a canvas baby buggy to his loading carrier and fills the perambulator with his heaviest load of the week—The Des Moines Sunday Registers that he must deliver.
It really takes the load off—but the boy wheels the baby carriage as early as possible so nobody will see him with it.
The first morning he used the unusual delivery cart somebody DID see him—a policeman, who parked his patrol car and strolled over to see why a kid was out with a baby buggy at 5 a.m.
He saw—and congratulated the paper boy on his ingenuity.
The baby carriage is the one that the paper boy himself used to be wheeled around in 14 years ago; but it had a sun-shading top in those days.
Being a newspaper boy earned my dad about 7 bucks a week—not bad for a teenager in 1964. Even better than the money, though, was the freedom. He remembers lounging around pool halls, getting cornered by German Shepherds, dodging bullies, hanging out at gas stations, and riding in the district manager's Thunderbird. He remembers stopping by his grandmother Margaret’s apartment to get clucked over, setting off fireworks, walking past certain houses that always smelled like onions, pushing those heavy Sunday papers around in a baby buggy, and getting cherry phosphates and cokes while waiting for the bundled papers to get dropped off at the drugstore.
My dad turned 65 this year. At least once a week he still dreams that he hasn't delivered the papers yet, and he can't remember who is on the route. — Margaret Novak