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SELLING PAPERS


During the mid 1940’s the best way young boys could earn spending money was to become a “paper boy”! At that time there were four newspapers in town, The Royal Oak Tribune, The Detroit News, The Detroit Times, and The Detroit Free Press. The Tribune was a small paper, delivered locally six times a week. I think the cost for one week was fifteen cents. A paper could usually be folded into a triangular shape and sailed from a boy’s bike to the porch, unless the customer requested that it be placed between the doors. That would take extra time, of course, but we had to please the customer or they would call in a complaint. That was not a pleasant thing to try to explain. Usually, on Fridays we collected payments from each of our customers for our weekly deliveries. On Saturdays we would have to pay the Tribune for the number of papers we had sold during the week.  What we had left over was our pay. This was like running your own business and was a good learning experience for all of us.

The News was the largest paper, but we could still usually fold it and throw it from our bikes, except on Thursdays and Sundays. Then they were too large to fold and remain folded when thrown, we would have to hand deliver each one to the porch. There were eight deliveries for the News during the week, six daily papers, a Saturday evening paper and the Sunday morning paper. I think the price for the dailies was only 24 cents and for all seven days was 36 cents. Collecting and paying for the papers was the same for all of the newspapers. Delivering the News or Times or Free Press was more profitable than the Tribune, except there were more Tribune customers, making all paper sales came out about the same.

Weather had no impact on our paper deliveries. Rain, snow, sunshine or personal affairs did not interfere with our duties. I guess the Post Office slogan applied to us as well. If we had to go on vacation with our families or were ill we had to find a replacement to deliver our route. When doing that we would inform our customers that we would be gone and not to expect our usual superb service. Collecting was done after our return, having made arrangements with the paper to hold our bill. There was usually a good working relationship within the delivery group. The Free Press was an early morning paper, and  many people wanted the paper before they left for work. Having to get up almost in the middle of the night to deliver wasn’t popular with the boys, so it was a lot harder to get a replacement if you were one of the regular delivery boys.

Another way to earn money was to have a Saturday evening post where all of the Sunday papers were sold.  My location was at a drugstore on the northeast corner of 4th street and Main, I think it was a Cunningham’s Drugs. To attract customers for our wares we shouted a singsong type of chant that went “Get your News, Times, Free Press Paper”. We had to stay at our post until the truck came to pick up all the left over papers and satisfy our debt for the ones that we had sold. In the winter this was a very poor way to spend a Saturday evening.  *

*This article was left, unsigned, at the Royal Oak Historical Museum. We would appreciate the author contacting the Historical Museum, so we can give the writer proper credit for his contribution .
 
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