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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Grass Routes: 1940

Grass Routes: 1940

July 1940. "Boys in Natchitoches, Louisiana, folding papers before delivering them in the afternoon." Photo by Marion Post Wolcott. View full size.

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Folding paper.

Salina Journal, (Kansas). I learned to fold my papers from an older kid, fold it flat. I could "wing it" like a boomerang while riding my Schwinn down the sidewalk. The paper would land within a foot of where I was aiming.
We had one extra paper each day and if a large tractor-trailer truck drove past we'd throw the extra paper on the roof of the trailer thinking that it might end up in some exotic place like Kansas City or even farther!!!

Elgin Four-Star

I believe the bicycle on the far right is also an Elgin, this one being the "Four Star" model which has "over/under" double upper frame members. As you can see, this model does have a conventional seat pillar.

It was my first bike, a hand me down from an older cousin. He, in turn, must have received it as a hand-me-down, because it's from the 1930's.

Wish I still had it!

Roll and tuck

Although it has been many years since I have had a paper route, I still roll & tuck newspapers before realizing I've done it.

Paper and Pop

The highlight of my paper route was stopping by the grain elevator for an ice cold coke. I had a route in the country and only had about 46 customers, but had to ride several miles each day to deliver them all.

There is a nice Elgin Twinbar bicycle second from the left. Notice that it has twin bars making up the frame and that there is no seat tube on the frame.

Love the old bikes.

Back in 1952 as a 10 year old my Dad took me to Sears to buy my J.C. Higgins bike. The memory comes back every time I see one of these old American bikes.

Ah yes, paperboy memories:

Some 10-15 years after this picture was taken, until I was old enough to work in the stores, I delivered the Miami Daily News in the N.E. section of Miami and later on in West Hollywood, Florida after school. The Sunday morning edition was the exception to this routine.

I had similar bikes, I had both 26" and 28" Schwinns. And yes, I said that right, not a 24" and 26" sizes. I was the proud owner of a fairly rare 28" Schwinn. It was a real workhorse for a paperboy

My handlebar basket was twice as big as on these boy's bikes and I had a pair of saddle bag style wire baskets on the back like the bike on the right. These were usually large enough to carry all of my papers 6 days a week.

On Sunday mornings I had to add a large pair of canvas saddle bags over the wire ones to carry all of those thicker papers. If the bike fell over, which was frequently, I had to unload it, prop it against something and reload it before continuing on.

I rarely folded a newspaper and even though I would buy a box of rubber bands from my route manager they usually lasted me for months. I walked the paper to the porch, placed it between the doors and usually made as much in tips as I did my share after settling my "paper bill" on Saturday afternoon.

Ah yes, those were the days.


I'd always do that task standing up, the better to whack the paper against the front of my thigh after I'd made the fold-and-tuck.

Same for many years . . .

At least until 1964, paper boys (and I hated that expression) did it the same way these kids did, riding a balloon-tired Schwinn or Western Auto bike with a big basket on the front.

I'll never forget one Friday in 1963. I collected for my papers on Fridays, and that usually took an hour-and-a-half for my 25-or-so subscribers. That day, it took five hours as every subscriber wanted to discuss their horror at President Kennedy's assassination.

Houma, Louisiana, November 22, 1963.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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