Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Paperboy to Pokiok 1947 - 1950

My lengthy and lucrative career as paperboy to Pokiok lasted but two and a half years .... from August ,
 1947 until January , 1950. I took over the route from an older boy named Ronnie Parks ..... or maybe it was his older brother , Eddy.....from Metcalf Street whose family and my own would , over the following decade , form strong bonds of friendship ........with a "canine" twist !! My black cocker spaniel , Mike , took a liking to Ronnie and started following him home to Metcalf Street every Saturday after he had finished delivering his papers up our way ....... spent the weekend being spoiled by the Parks family ..... and would then tail Ronnie back to Pokiok on Monday. Mike would then stay with us until the subsequent Saturday when the pattern would repeat itself all over again. Finally we caught on to Mike's little game .... and since the Parks belonged to our parish we knew where they lived ..... so Sundays , after Mass , we would drop by their house to "pick up" our dog on our way home from church. Thus the "shared custody" of Mike began and lasted well into the early 1950s until the poor old dog went blind and could no longer travel from one home to the other. My Dad found him dead behind the old henhouse in the Spring of 1953.

It was during the Summer of 1947 that Ronnie told me he was giving up the paper route for reasons I forget now ..... and that I should take it over and make myself some easy pocket money. He added that it was pretty much the same route I walked every day on my way home from school anyways .....adding that at least when I'd dropped off my last paper I'd be close to home .... not like him having to trek all the way back down to the North End after he'd finished delivery of the last paper. So I took it !´

Back then North End paperboys picked up their stacks or bundles of papers at Cain's grocery store on Adelaide Street ..... and from there  fanned out in all directions. In my case the bundle allotted to me contained 123 newspapers .... which jived with the number of customers on the list Ronnie had given me. My route began at the modern day OK Corral Corner of Albert and Victoria Streets and stretched to Bridge Street in Indiantown with no customers on Cunard Street ... and only one on Holly Street... the Clarks ( Gerry was a year behind me at St Peter's and his mom was Bea McElwaine , Charlie McElwaine's sister). Why I had noone on Bridge Street I guess I'll never know.... however , I delivered to lower Spar Cove Road and River Street and was often spoiled by Tess and Eddy Kiley or whenever Lou Kiley was visiting from Boston .... I still remember my first American $5 bill ...... a gift from Lou one Christmas. From there I would cut up over the hill beside Kiley's store to Dorbyson's and then down Belleview Avenue to Pokiok Road ...... and from here it was all uphill ..... to the top of Glad Hill and my friend , Tommy's, house ..... then down the other slope to my last customer , Edgar McCoy ...... at the end of the road near the Twin Ponds !

So as not to sin by longwindedness I shall slowly wind this post down with a few facts and figures from the 1940s ....maybe even a wee anecdote or two about my own experience with folks along my paper route. Back in 1947-1948 newspapers sold at 4 cents a copy so with six deliveries per week I should collect 24 cents from each customer when I made my rounds on Saturday. Most gave me a quarter and told me to keep the penny for myself while many would hand me the exact amount ........  some in a myriad of possible combinations ...... others in pennies only ! My Dad converted an old wooden 18 to 20-inch-high nail keg into a bank for them and eventually I would have enough to buy myself my first portable record player plus two or three Hank Snow 78rpms and Hank's "I'm Movin' On" and "I've Got A Tangled Mind" became synonomous with "noise" in our home !!

As a general rule in those days folks were very generous to their paper carriers at Christmastide. I still remember well Christmas 1948 when I brought home $63 in tips plus my usual salary of between $7 and $8 ..... and to boot my customers showered me with socks , mitts and stocking hats they had knitted , fudge from Nanny Caddell , a Boston Bruins sweater from Leonard and Muriel Andrews plus a 1905 antique single shot , lever action 22 Remington rifle from Howard Bishop .... a gift I have always treasured and still have with me today......... which , by the way , still works !!

On a closing note for those who either were not there back in the 1940s or who have forgotten..... there were two newspapers back then  , the morning paper bore the title The Telegraph Journal whereas the afternoon /evening edition was called The Evening Times Globe. I carried the Globe. 

P.S. The top picture shows Raymond Earle and myself in front of his house .... Andrews house in background..... with sister , Doreen , seated on my new CCM bike which I had received for Christmas 1947. I would add a huge delivery basket later to carry my paper bag with "news and information" for Pokiokers!    


  1. Delivery of newspaper... boy I've done that, but nobody gave me a single shot Remington 22 calibre for Christmas. Mater of fact... my costumer never gave me something. How cheap they were.... lol

  2. Hi Swib .... Thanks for dropping by and adding your personal reflexions. I guess I was simply lucky to be born in Pokiok where folks had known me since I was a toddler and had watched me grow up .... maybe even playing with their own children..... plus the fact that people up our way .... even in the wake of tough times during the War ..... showed their true colours as generous human beings. Please come back again.

  3. Sounds like you had quite a lucrative career back then Gerry!

    I was born in '47 (lol). Never had a paper route, I'm afraid.

    Love the "shared custody" of the dog.

    People were so much kinder and gentler back then, weren't they?!!!

  4. My dear friend , Raenie.... what a happy moment to have you visiting me in Pokiok !! And yes , I guess 8 bucks a week went a long way for a 12-year old boy back in those days .... getting into movies at the old Regent Theatre cost 25 cents, etc I'm not sure about folks being kinder but it surely was a gentler period ... especially up in the hills where we lived. How about that get-together we have been talking about for years now in Portsmouth , New Hampshire ? You meet us part way..... we'll go all the way there in one day easily. Hugs to you and son.

  5. Marie-hélène Mollen to Gerry McNulty
    Gerry, tshekuan ne "PokioK"? tshi shuk menuentakuen tshetshi tshitatakant, mishkut apu akaneshau aiamian. Kuei, tshi ma nantem minipuanimin

  6. Kue , Marie-Hélène... tshimistanaskumitin ... Pokiok ntassi kie ma ntastshi kie ma niuatenam an ! nete uest ntinniuh mista shashish .... il y a 75 ans ... ehe , shash ntshishenniun ! Tshimistaminuentamieuk e innushtan .... même si nimistauantshistshun .... apu mush innuaiamian ! Iame , Mani-Enen !

  7. Sylvia Johnston SpencerNovember 6, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    Hi, again, Gerry
    Another great posting!!!
    I was born the year that picture was taken with Ray and Doreen Earle. As a matter of fact, he was my godfather. Of course, we have lost track of each other. How I loved his parents, especially Mary. Did you know Muriel Andrews is living in Saint John with her daughter, Janis. I think that her son, Lennie, lives in the same house you delivered your paper to each day. Muriel and Leonard were very generous to me. They were my second parents during my younger years. I bet she would love to see you.
    Keep up the great memories you share with us.
    Irene, Artie's niece, told me she had a wonderful visit with him and you will probably be posting some of the pictures she shared with Artie. Irene and I are in constant contact, always have been and always will. Hope you get the fun of meeting her.

  8. Hi Sylvia.... Always great to have you drop by and lend a helping hand ..... your comments are treasured ! And yes , Mary and Ray Earle were so good to me also... Mary kind , gentle and a constant smiler while Ray , a truly hard worker at the Snow Flake Lime , was more reserved , quiet and humble.As for Leonard and "Moony" Andrews ... I adored those two , maybe not as second parents , but rather as role models ... they took me upriver in their canoe , treated me like an adult... even lent me a shirt of Leonard's I thought I looked pretty snazzy in to wear to the movies on weekends ... and I would leave it on their doorknob on my way home. I hope to visit with her soon.
    I had to go to Québec to see my sons a while back so I missed the meeting between Art and Irene. However , Art is going to set up another get-together with all three of us present... and I am looking forward to meeting Irene and am so happy that both of you have kept your childhood friendship alive and well over all these years. Keep coming back , dear Sylvia ...