Posted: 7/24/2022 2:41:49 PM
Modified: 07/24/2022 14:38:47
There was a time, decades ago, when people eagerly awaited the delivery of their afternoon edition of the Journal Concord Monitor. I have very fond memories of my early years working as a newspaper boy, delivering the Tuning Monitor from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Tuning Monitor was not published on Sundays during this period, so my afternoon paper trail started on Monday and ended on Friday, with Saturday Tuning Monitor be a morning paper and delivery. My paper route was near the childhood home I grew up in, surrounding the White Park area as well as the United Life Insurance Company offices on White Street, the former location of Durgin Silversmith.
My career with Tuning Monitor lasted about five years and I enjoyed every bit of it. I have delivered during the heat of summer as well as in the midst of winter blizzards. My clients knew me and greeted me with hot chocolate during the winter and iced tea during the hot summer months. The old folks on my paper route were certainly hungry for news, but the friendly banter and afternoon conversation was enjoyed by me and my clients alike. I learned a lot about the people, I heard wonderful stories about the old days in Concord and I also heard sad stories. Being a paperboy during this time was both profitable and enjoyable for anyone who had the opportunity.
The years leading up to my days as a paperboy were similar, but there was indeed a difference. Newspapers were delivered by paperboys, but they were also sold on street corners, at newsstands, and outside our local churches on Sunday mornings. Local stores offered various newspapers but other means of delivery were still strained with the volume of news delivered to your door or acquired with a quick stop at the news cart. Local and regional information was sought every day by the people of Concord, taverns and sidewalks were the places that today have been replaced by the Internet and television. The gossip of the day on the Main Street sidewalk was as colorful as the gossip found on social media today.
When my parents were young and living during the post-depression era, news buses were very popular. My grandfather walked from his home on North State Street to the press bus that was owned and operated by Paul Denning. The news bus was parked every day on State Street, near our State House annex. My grandfather would walk around with my young father by his side and buy his newspaper, magazines, cigars or cigarettes with a packet of gum for my father. Paul Denning didn’t just serve up the print news, his daily banter with my grandfather is still remembered. The press bus shopping experience was highly social and enjoyed by many men and women in Concord during the 1930s and 1940s.
Remarkably, I remember every customer I served along my paper route. I remember their names, their habits and their hobbies. I remember the activities they enjoyed as well as the careers they retired from. To this day, I find daily inspiration to write my weekly Sunday column for the Tuning Monitor stories I heard so long ago. My parents always asked me why I came home late for dinner every afternoon, I’m sure they knew my gift for speaking up and engaging the people I loved so much. I have heard many stories of retired gentlemen who served in both World War I and World War II. I listened intently to my clients telling me about their sleepless nights worrying about their sons and daughters serving in the Vietnam War. Some of their children never returned from the war and the sadness they feel was evident. Heard many funny stories and old jokes from a century ago, learned a few tricks and helped lonely people who needed a simple chat. It was a different world back then, a world filled with compassion and kindness.
The world of information combined all races, all faiths and all ages. Our ancestors thrived on the words written in everyday life Tuning Monitor as well as other publications. I was greeted at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning by some of my clients, they were waiting for their Saturday Concord Instructor so they can enjoy it quietly with their first cup of fresh coffee in the morning. I learned a lot during those young formative years delivering the Tuning Monitor. More importantly, I developed my love of words and compassion for the people I visited every day.
Vintage Views is a local history column that explores Concord and its surrounding towns. It airs weekly in the Sunday Your Life section. The author is a historian and not a staff member of Le Moniteur.