Thursday, March 01, 2018

Sepia Saturday #408: Paperboys

The prompt this week is a fine group photograph from the 1920s of "caddies at Shaughnessy Golf Club". 

My dad was about twelve in this photo of the paperboys for the Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The paper was delivered around 5:00 pm, after school was out for the boys.  Most of them pulled their papers in sleds during the winter, although I think my Dad carried a pouch. There wasn't any extra money in their household for such an extravagance as a sled. They'd recently moved from the farm in Ontario west to Winnipeg. Fortunately, jobs were plentiful and the whole family went to work.

Having the paper delivery job was a rite of passage for boys for decades. My husband delivered papers on his bicycle in S. California in the fifties. They learned about responsibility, being on time, customer service, negotiating and working as a team.

I took a little editorial liberty and added snow to the photo via Lunapic. The scene looks like January or February to me–just a wild guess. I know it was cold, very cold and the boys would not have lingered on their butts in the snow for the photographer - he must have been good and he must have been fast. You had to keep moving in that climate in the winter.

And the final shot is how the scene would be photographed today, about 107 years later.

"What's a paperboy?" I can hear my great grand nieces and nephews asking.

My Dad is the lad at the top of this cropped-out photo. The dog isn't his but they look like they belong together. When I used this picture for another Sepia Saturday prompt, people remarked that Dad looked like a girl. He would have cringed to hear it but I have to agree. He's almost pretty in this shot. He morphed into a good-looking man. The prettiness evaporated when puberty set in. 

Newsies, the musical, is set in 1899, the year my father was born. It's still being staged here and there, and Disney's made a movie of it. The starring roles are Crutchie, Race, Specs, Finch and Spot. Those names. No kidding. They don't seem PC enough for Disney today.  I'm an old fuddy-duddy now, stuck living in the past where characters had to have believable PC names like Sky Masterson, Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Harry the Horse. Well, maybe Harry the Horse was a little cruel. 

The little bit I've seen of the show on Youtube seems unbearably corny with hackneyed music (is it me? or do all these show songs sound alike) and banal themes, but it's won several awards. 

Join the crowd and visit Sepia Saturday for more interpretations of this week's theme. 


  1. Wonderful photo to fit this week's prompt. Love the Lunapic snow treatment! How wonderful to have a photo of your Dad at his first job. Nicely done.

  2. Such a great way to follow the meme! Most enjoyable, and it does make me sad that young boys (and girls) can't do paper-delivery any more. We have a weekly paper here, and there's usually a boy standing outside the post office selling it.

  3. That's a super photo and perfect for the theme. In the olden times, newsboys bought their papers from the distributor and had to eat any they couldn't sell. In a few cities they successfully organized as a labor union. But mainly they were exploited by the publishers. I love the idea of hearty young Canadian boys bringing the paper by sled. Today my paper gets delivered by car at 5:00 AM and in 20 years I've never seen, much less met, whoever gets the paper over the gate for my dog to bring into the house.

  4. That is a wonderful photo of the paperboys, a real treasure. And the creative skill of adding the snow is admirable - although given the conditions here at the moment, it is someone to take the snow away that is needed.

  5. Wonderful photo for the prompt! And great to have this from your dad's childhood.

  6. I just love the snow effect in fact just before I saw that photo I was thinking oh they must be cold!

  7. How wonderful to have this photo. I tried to encourage my kids to deliver the local rag. They were keen for the first few weeks but god, what a job! It seemed to take over the dining room table and you had to put in the advertising material. Return on investment of time was next to non-existent.

  8. That's a wonderful photo! And I love the added snow. It was so nice when the paper was delivered and the milkman came with goodies. Things were nicer then because time seemed to make more sense. Now we're always short of time. We've lost a lot to the "conveniences" of today. Count me as a fuddy duddy too.

  9. You’re right - what is a paperboy? I remember our paperboy from when I was a kid. After he rang the doorbell on collection day, he would stand on his tiptoes and peek in the window of our front door. Creepy. Now we have a paperman — a full grown adult who drives through the neighborhood and launches the paper over the roof of his car into the driveway.

  10. As an Ex-Paperboy myself ,I identified with your Dad ( & your lovely snowflakes!).
    It is strange the way this digital world is going....imagine a few years from now, children will be noneplussed by seeing "a hole in the door" & wonder at its possible purpose!

  11. Wonderful post. I too love the addition of the snow on that great photo of your dad and his mates. I've heard that most of our papers are delivered by marines who need the extra income. At least in our area they don't have to contend with snow. But it's kind of sad to think they need extra income.