EPIODE 745 PAPERBOYS…ADVENTURES 1950’S..Toronto star sold for 3 cents, we got half a cent.
March 24, 2023
Eric and I had a small paper route on Fairview Avenue in 1950. There
was nothing special about us. Lots of other
boys and girls had similar routes all across Toronto. The Toronto Star sold for
3 cents a copy of which we made half cent. That is meaningless today. The
cent no longer exists, But in 1950 cents could accumulate if we were careful
and eventually I was able to buy a Humber Sports racing bike with 3 speed Sturmey
Archer gears. Paid for by money saved courtesy of the Toronto Star.
Today my brother Eric arrived and while we drank coffee and ate breakfast
some of the stories spilled from our mouths.
Some pics….not Eric…just 1950’s paperboys
INCIDENTS THAT REMAIN MEMORABLE
1) Our bundle of papers arrived bound together with wire. We snipped the
wire and wrapped it around the lamppost. Quite a pile of rusty wire built up.
Ugly as sin but a marker for our time spent delivering papers on Fairview Avenue.
“Boys, you must stop wrapping that wire around the post.”
“Because it is costing me a fortune in nylons…the wire tears them.
(nice lady on Annette Street with torn nylons)
“Alan, have you noticed that our wire pile gives an electric jolt once in a while.”
“Must be some kind of leakage of electricity”
“May be we should stop piling up the wire.”
“Electrically charged paper route….a one of a kind”
“I’m going to start wearing gloves.”
“Best to just snip the wire.and put it in the garbage.”
“Another grand idea destroyed by nylon stockings”
2) “Alan, I’m in big trouble now.”
“I winged a paper through a living room window.”
“Woman said she was having a bath when it happened…’could
not go downstairs…glass all over living room floor.’ Angry
as all get out.”
We speeded up our delivery system by folding the star in such a way
that it was possible to throw papers from our bikes. Eric threw a
perfect right handed copy as he sped down the list side of Fairview.
Not lobbed. Eric threw bullet like copies until that day.
We never knew how the situation was resolved because Dad
went down to see the lady. We paid for the window I think.
But we did not lose a customer. Sometimes, albeit rarely, dad
could be charming. Even at his best women seemed to like him.
3) “Eric, I’ll give you a quarter if you grab that squirrel by the tail.”
“You’re on…watch me.”
The squirrel nosed its way tentatively to his hand…then he grabbed
it by the tail….fast grab.
The squirrel turned around fast…sunk its sickle like claws deep in
Eric’s arm….drew blood.
“Guess I owe you a quarter, Eric”
That happened on the lawn of the lady with the smashed window
4) There were some dark times on that paper route. One hit hard.
A girl in my class died. I was only 12 years old in 1950. Seemed
impossible that a kid my age could die. But the ominous cloud of
polio militias hung over us. I think that is how she died. I never
knew her name.
Polio hit closer to home in 1953 or 1954 when Jim G.
was suddenly bed ridden with polio, He was a classmate….friendly guy
who seemed indestructible . Then he was gone from Humberside and
bed ridden. Russ Vanstone, Jim Romaniuk and I bought him a gift.
If he was bed ridden he needed some fine literature so we bought
him a skin book…may have been a copy of Playboy Nice magazine…we
read it first. Not exactly reading material. We gawked at it before
giving the mag to Jim. I remember his mother was unimpressed.
If I remember correctly Jim never fully recovered froM polio. Memory
could be wrong.
IS NOT JIM G…polio victim though
Oct. 1954. Dr. Salk with the polio vaccine
Where would he have got polio? Perhaps just by going swimming
at the Mineral Baths on Bloor Street. At least that was the rumour.
We spent some of our cash profits at Minnies. Danger rumours were
Not strong enough to stop us If the rumour had been stronger then one dark event in my
life might have been avoided…my meeting with a police officer and
being driven home in the back seat of a police car. That’s another story
though. I was really innocent but no one except my young brother
would believe me.
Minnies had a high triple height tower from which could jump
or dive. Dangerous.
“Do not run and jump from the top platform?
“You could miss the pool and impale yourself on the wire spiked
fence on the other side of the pool”
“Are you kidding?”
“No. Some guy got killed doing a running jump.”
“Never knew but all the kids talk about it.”
“Which means it never happened.”
“Possibly. Why don’t you take a running jump just to get
your name in the Toronto Star.”
5) Even closer to us was the death of Windows Doyle’s young
brother. The Doyles were our customers and schoolmates.
When Windows Doyle’s brother died the shock was electric…numbing.
How could a person die from peanut butter? Die from an allergic
reaction to peanuts? Or was it walnuts? I still remember just how deep his death
affected all of us but particularly Windows of course. I even
hesitate to note the event which happened 76 years ago. That
tragedy reminded us of our own mortality.
“Sad…tragic….but can I ask a question?
“Why was Windows Doyle called ‘Windows’?”
“Eric, my brother , has always been good at nicknames.
“So when Bill Doyle suddenly had to wear glasses, Eric nick
named him windows…and the name stuck…
How is all this connected to our paper route on Fairview Avenue? Good question.
Being paperboys made us deeply aware of our community…all ages not just our
Gone with the wind. Paperboys and papergirls. The newspapers themselves are
in danger of disappearing as we punch our way into a digital age.