My Missourian Carrier Bag

Southeast Missourian carrier bag 03-01-2014_2087I was shuffling boxes in my storage shed behind the house to make room for stuff that was overflowing my office when I opened a box that contained some stuff I could throw away without hesitation. Wadded up in the bottom of the box, though, was what might have been my first Southeast Missourian carrier bag.

I’ve been wracking my brain to remember the guy who hired me as a substitute carrier for the whopping pay of $2.50 a week for six days of delivery and collecting on Saturday morning. I think his name was Bob, and I was impressed at how together he seemed to be. He didn’t spend a lot of time teaching me the route: we walked it one time on one afternoon, then he handed me the collection book and said, “Don’t miss anybody.”

So short the bag dragged the ground

At 12 years old, I was so short I had to carry the bag cross my chest like a bandolier to keep it from dragging the ground. That might be why the bottom has a big hole in it. The bags had a long piece in the back that would fold forward to TRY to keep the papers from getting wet if it was raining. You can see it hanging down behind the bag.

Bob passed the route on to Jerry Collins. Houses were starting to pop up all over the place, so eventually the route was split and I got one of my own. I started out with about 90 customers and grew the route to around 300, which meant I needed to find two subs of my own. After paying them and buying the papers from The Missourian, I was making about $24 a week, half of what I made as a Missourian reporter.

I’m sorry that kids today don’t have the opportunity to carry papers like I did. I learned responsibility, how to keep books, customer relation skills and salesmanship. That’s a lot for a kid who hadn’t hit his teens yet.

14 Replies to “My Missourian Carrier Bag”

  1. I subbed for Jerry Jenkins a couple of times. His route was west of Capaha Park north along Perryville road to split of Perry Ave. and Perryville Road. I did teach kids responsibility, bookkeeping and being on time, NO one wanted a late newspaper! I too learned a lot, like be the boss, that’s where the money is! It is shame the newspapers are not around these days, I did ask for job delivering printed copies MSN to the neighborhood, but MSN did not seem to too interested, so I am still looking for another like venture in my old age.

  2. i remember how the carriers folded the paper into a triangle…and was it fridays? that the “pink paper” came out to show what movies were playing?

  3. I also subbed. That was when almost every house on the street got a newspaper and they were either put on the front porch or near the front porch, The only problem was when you went to collect some wouldn’t answer the door and you knew they were home as you could hear them in the house. That meant another trip. You got the paper in the evening when you could read it after supper. Now hey come in the morning and you only glance at them till you have more time later to read them. With the cost of cars and fuel,am wondering it the change to morning paper was worth it as very few take it anymore.

    1. I was one of the original paper boys for the Bulletin-Journal. When we first started, we had to hang the papers on the door knob.

      1. I delivered those and se miss. About 50 to 75 papers i think. Was good with people paying me on the bulliten journal. Even though it was free but could like $2 a month i think if they wanted too. I had around 3/4 of the people pay that. Making sure all papers were on porch and not in bushes or something. I had mom put a wire basket on my bike cause like the artical i was too short to carry the bag lol. Great learning experence.

  4. One of our sons tried a paper route in the late ’80’s, but gave it up. Paper routes then as now were done early morning in the dark and kind of scarey if one was walking it. It is a shame times have changed so much.

  5. Sunday was the St Louis Post or Globe. News “boys” setup near a church or rolled a wood box with steel wheels down the street. One could here them coming in the summer with the windows open.

  6. I remember my oldest brother, Jeff, had a paper route for a while – I was fascinated with the way he could fold the paper into a triangle to make it easier to throw. Can anybody post instructions on how it was done? I’ve never been able to do it.

  7. I remember passing papers in the early 70’s’ with Burt Lehman. It was a free paper but I can’t remember
    the name of it. One of our buds named Fred’s dad owned
    the paper I think. It was a 3:00am gig. Not much money to be made but it was something.

  8. Lots of lessons in Cape as a paperboy…if you hit that square aluminum panel at the bottom of storm doors- it made a loud noise and someone would likely come out and yell at you–! If you threw the paper into the wind on a windy day toward a porch–it might land on the roof causing you to be short and have to buy a paper at Fisher’s supermarket to finish, some people moved out of town without paying you…ride fast, hold your legs up when passing those houses that had dogs that tried to bite you….good memories!

    1. I had a route with some streets with high turnover that left me holding the bag, so to speak. After getting stiffed a few times, I collected a week in advance. I don’t know what The Missourian would have thought of that, but it kept me from losing money, and the customers didn’t know the difference after the first week I started it.

      I don’t think I had a single customer balk when I made the change.

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