My father, who will be 71 this year, wrote the following memories down the other day about his time as a paper boy in rural Iowa:
It is 1950, I am 11 years old and my first chosen occupation was to have a paper route with the Waterloo Daily Courier. When the paper boy who delivered our family newspaper left, I told him I was very interested in having his route. He introduced me to his supervisor, and I was hired to deliver in North Cedar and Cottage Row. I had approximately 30 customers to start. Two years later, the route had grown to 45. I had lots of fun, as my dog Velvet was at my side, and we managed to discourage other dogs from interfering with the delivery process. The streets were very sandy with some gravel. On wet days it was difficult biking with a load of papers hanging from the rear fender rack of my bike. The bike that I bought on layaway from the Coast to Coast store in Cedar Falls was bought with my earnings from my paper route. Collection was the most difficult part of my job. With my long, leather, ringed collection book in my hand, I would go from door to door, collecting each week, always on Friday. Too many times I was told to “come back next week.” I always went back with my chrome changer attached to my belt to collect, many times as much as five weeks. I would tear off the stubs with freezing fingers and collect well after dark.
Without Gortex and synthetic wools, my front and back paper bag filled with papers gave me warmth and wind protection. I can still smell the newspapers in that white sailcloth canvas bag with the red letters Waterloo Courier. It fit me well.
Summer was another story, as I could put all my papers in a cart pulled behind my bike. It was always faster to just walk, as I could cut through yards and take shortcuts home. My dad always got his paper last!
Lyle Calease, Cedar Falls