Last week I drove one of those routes exactly as I had ridden my bicycle to deliver those papers. I was amazed that I could still name a lot of the families that resided in those houses on my route.
This route covered streets between Epler Avenue and Thompson Road and east of Madison Avenue. Two of my Edgewood teachers resided on Epler Avenue, and about 10 of my classmates lived in the area.
All of The Star/News carriers picked up their papers at a blue metal building behind the drugstore at Epler and Madison avenues. The Rev. Walter Barth, pastor of the church at Dudley Avenue and Shelby Street, was in charge of our paper station, which was equipped with a wood-burning stove. He always kept the building warm in the winter.
We went directly to the paper station after being dismissed from school. I’m sure that our customers kept an eye out for us as we ran our routes.
Since we didn’t have plastic bags to protect the papers from bad weather, we put them on covered porches or between a storm door and the solid front door. We never tossed papers onto yards or driveways.
The fall and winter holidays were lots of fun for us carriers. We always did a dual visit close to Halloween. We collected the 30 cents for the paper and would often trick-or-treat at that time. Sometimes we received special treats.
Delivering papers on Thanksgiving always took a lot of extra time. Some of my customers invited me in for something to eat. By the time I was finished with my route, my saddlebags, which normally held newspapers, were full of goodies, including turkey and pie.
Christmas was also special. Our customers always took good care of us carriers. I got cards with cash presents and boxes of chocolate-covered cherries; I remember having more than a dozen boxes stacked on our kitchen counter one year. I always purchase chocolate-covered cherries at Christmastime because they bring back so many special memories. (Editor’s note: Some of those boxes were dropped off to staff members at The Southsider Voice.)
A few years later several of my friends, Larrie and Mickey Johnson, and I had morning Indianapolis Star routes. I didn’t have the same close connection with my customers that I did with my afternoon route. No one was awake when we delivered those papers, and it was still dark for better than half of the year when we were peddling papers.
Larrie told me that Mickey didn’t really enjoy being out early in the morning when it was dark. One morning we finished our routes extra-fast and rode our bicycles a few blocks south on Madison to hide and see what Mickey was doing.
He came riding past us, and I was surprised to hear him talking to himself. He was saying, “Come on Mick, only five more stops. You can do it.”
I think our original plan was to frighten him, but we were so surprised to hear him conversing with himself that we stayed quiet ... at least until he was out of hearing range so that we could start laughing.
Those were the days!