Local Voices: ‘I was a young Lansing paperboy’

by Rich Murray, in response to Towns without Newspapers

Just a quick note with background memories. I was a young Lansing paperboy in 1954-1955 when I visited the old Lansing Journal on Williams. Not sure why I was there, but if my memory serves me right, it was my first sight, sound, and smell of a Linotype machine and the associated press. My impression is that there was a lot of clinking and clanking as type was set, and somehow molten metal was involved.

Those were the days of four daily newspapers — mornings: the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times; afternoons: the Chicago Daily News and Chicago American — plus the weekly Journal. I didn’t deliver the Journal. I think it was just mailed and sold in stores. Thursdays, I think. And the Hammond Times was handled by a different agency and different paperboys.

The morning newspapers were thrown off a truck onto our doorstep (Adams Street, just off Wentworth) about 5 am. I delivered them (by bike) before going to school (Memorial Junior High). I developed a great overhand toss and only put one on the roof and caused one broken storm door window. (That cut into my profits!) The morning papers weighed almost as much as I did. Sunday papers were so big, I had to pull them around in a wagon or sled. The comics and other sections were delivered during the week; then on Sunday mornings I had to insert them into each paper for delivery.

Afternoon papers were delivered right after school. I remember that if I paid my bill to the news agency on time, I got a free ticket to the Lans Theater. Saved me 25 cents.

A question: Was the newspaper agency where I got my newspaper from (then located in an alley south of Ridge Road behind the old Hotz Drug store, I think) associated with or owned by the Journal publishers? Paperboys paid for the papers each week, then we had to collect from the subscribers, usually on a Saturday. Cut little squares out of a paper sheet as their receipt. Learned how to chase after “slow payers.” Only got “stiffed” by a few.

Other background, for what it’s worth: I was 10-11 when delivering papers. I was small (under 4′) and weighed less than 60 pounds. Since I was so short, I could only handle a 20″ bike. Each morning I would roll/fold the papers (about 60) and stuff them into a large cloth bag (about 30″x 24″) made for newspaper delivery boys. I would strap it to the handle bars and head out down the sidewalks, pitching the appropriate paper up to each front door as I whizzed past. When the bag was full, I could barely see over it. The afternoon routes had far fewer subscribers. An all-cash business; I still have the change maker I wore on my belt when making my collections.

Rich Murray

Rich Murray created and maintains a website for the 1959 class of TF South: TFSouth1959.website. “It was the first class to graduate from South,” he explains, “but wasn’t completely separate from North yet. Sports teams and bands, etc., were still one, and sports were held at North. We were 2 1/2 years on shifts at North and 18 months at South, but the building wasn’t really complete when we moved in.”

Local Voices is our version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Send your submissions to The Lansing Journal with “Voices” in the subject line.



    • Unlike many of the rest of us Rich Murray was (and is) very smart. He skipped a few grades, which made him the smallest student in the the TF South Class of 1959. He was even smaller than me!

  1. Rich:

    Great memory! I, too, delivered newspapers for the Dockweiler’s, who ran the news agency, and it was right where you said it was! I’m glad you’re keeping up with the rest of the class of ’59 by maintaining the website.


  2. Great story, Rich! I, too, delivered papers in Lansing but as a girl, I inherited my brother’s route. It was in the ’60s and I earned enough money to buy my very first record player which promptly hosted The Beatles on a daily basis. Oh, how I wish I could have put my favorite music on a digital loop! Later, at the age of 16, I was employed as a proofreader for The Sun-Journal. Skills learned would come in handy the rest of my life, as we all know, “spell-check” does not proofread for grammar!

  3. I was in printing most of my life. Started at RR Donnelley and sons and ended up with 35 years at the Chicago Tribune. I was a machinist, fixed presses and packaging equipment. I never was a paper boy, I could not cut it.

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