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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Montrose Newsies: 1940

Montrose Newsies: 1940

September 1940. "Distributing newspapers off the morning train to newsboys at the railroad station. Montrose, Colorado." Medium format acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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Heavy-Framed Bicycles with Balloon Tires

Note that these bicycles have a heavy-duty frame with the top horizontal member doubled ! Not two thin tubes side-by-side, but rather two full-size tubes, one above the other. They weigh perhaps twice what a modern bicycle weighs!

I learned to ride in the 1960’s on a hand-me-down Elgin Four-Star from the 1930’s which was very much like the bicycles depicted here. While I cannot positively identify these newsboy’s bikes as Elgin’s, the resemblance is very strong, including the two curved bars extending front the top of the steering tube to the axle ends. (These were purely decorative, as far as I know.)

The scene seems like a bit of Americana that happened every morning in many towns for many decades: The morning train from the nearest large city unloaded bundles of papers etc. from the baggage/express car onto a high-bed, high-wheeled Railway Express Agency pull cart. The REA Agent then brought the cart to the street side of the depot and the bicycles and small local delivery trucks converged on it. The performance might be repeated again if there were evening papers. (Remember them?)

The bikes

remind me of the ex-service Parachute bikes, Model BSA 'Airborne folding para troops bicycle,' that were left by the Canadian troops in southern Netherlands (Zeeland) after the liberattion of our country in 1945. People could buy them.

Small Town

With Montrose's population at fewer than 5,000 in 1940, we may be looking at that town's entire cadre of newsies here.

In the bag

The newsie about to depart doesn't use a strapped shoulder bag to hold his papers. Must have a flat route or be really gifted riding with one hand. Also, I seem to remember seeing grocery delivery trucks using those insulated canvas bags (against the wall) to transport frozen food, especially ice cream. They must have done okay at melt prevention.

Breaking news: Still there!


A bicycle for a paperboy. I made more money per paper on non-subscription sales, hawking them in public, but the bulk of my papers were delivered to houses on my route, and I couldn’t have done it without a bike.

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