Written by Aleen Ratzlaff Tuesday, 17 July 2012 14:03
And of those 10, seven are preteens or teenagers.
That percentage runs contrary to a nationwide trend, where adults make up 81 percent of the newspaper carriers, according to an Associated Press article.
Over the years, afternoon papers have declined, many dailies now are delivered in the morning and added safety concern have shifted what once was a job for youngsters to one now frequently held by adults.
Elias Kalua, 10, the most recent carrier hired, began delivering papers at the end of June.
Like each Free Press carrier, Elias is assigned a weekly route, his being the “Jayhawk.”
Paper routes are named for mascots and colors of familiar sports teams, including Hillsboro High School, Tabor College, Kansas State University and University of Kansas.
Each Tuesday, Elias said, he delivers about 110 papers on his route, which includes homes in his neighborhood.
The origin of paperboys, according to media historians, dates back to 1833 when New York Sun’s publisher Benjamin Day hired a 10-year-old boy who, like Elias, answered the paper’s ad.
Cameron Kalua has been impressed with her son being proactive.
“He was the one who took the initiative to check at the (Free Press) office,” she said about him landing the job.
Delivering the Free Press is Elias’s first paid job, he said, and he earns a check once a month.
Minors delivering newspapers to consumers are exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act child labor as well as wage and hours provisions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor website.
“These days are really hot,” Elias said.
Trying to stay cool, Elias said he wears shorts, a T-shirt and a hat, plus drinks plenty of water.
Plus, the job requires some stamina.
During Elias’s first week on the job, he watched as his trainer folded and stuffed papers in plastic bags, carried the full bags along the route and hung each paper on the front door.
Cameron said Elias was surprised when he realized how heavy the bags of paper can be.
“The (full) bag is triple his bodyweight,” Cameron said, with a laugh. “He has a heavy load.”
Becoming more efficient in delivering the papers has been a learning experience for Elias.
“He first started out and was going to fold (the papers) as he walked,” Cameron said. “But the bag was so heavy, he didn’t have his hands free.
“So then he came back to the house, laid everything out and folded them all up.”
That day it took Elias more than four hours to complete his route, Cameron said.
Although he hasn’t timed how fast he can fold the papers now, Elias said it takes about an hour to deliver his route.
Elias said he likes walking the route and talking with people he sometimes meets along the way.
“They’re always nice,” he said.
Elias, who will be a fifth grader at Hillsboro Elementary School in fall, said he plans to continue delivering papers during the school year.
Elias joins the ranks of well-known individuals who can list newspaper carrier experience on their resumes, including Walt Disney, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Martin Luther King Jr., and Tom Brokaw, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
In fact, Newspaper Carrier Day is typically celebrated at the end of National Newspaper Week, said John Murray, vice president of audience development for NAA in a phone interview.
Designated by Newspaper Association Managers, National Newspaper Week is usually the first full week of October, Murray said, adding this year being Oct. 7-13.
For some, delivering newspapers for the Free Press is not their first employment.
In 2011, the Lawrence and Gail Kliewer family moved from Newton to the Lohrenz homestead south of Hillsboro where Gail had grown up.
In December, their two youngest daughters, Abby, 16, and Lydia, 14, signed up as carriers for the Free Press.
The sisters’ siblings—all six of them—started delivering papers for the Newton Kansan, beginning in 1993.
Like their siblings, Abby and Lydia had delivered papers for the Newton Kansan.
Over the years, this family of newspaper carriers had noticed a change in newspaper distribution.
“Fewer and fewer people are taking the paper,” the girls’ mother said.
Nonetheless, she said, delivering papers has taught her children responsibility.
As well as how to manage money, Abby added.
Delivering papers has its perks.
Their jobs also have offered opportunities for the girls to develop special relationships with some patrons.
Abby has fond memories of one Newton client, Mrs. Baker.
“Every holiday she would have a little gift for me,” Abby said.
Lydia said she did get a tip last Christmas from one of her Free Press patrons.
When on their Newton routes, occasionally patrons offered the girls a soda pop or cookies.
“One of my customers gave me popsicles,” Lydia said.
Of course, another perk is earning spending money.
For each paper they deliver, the carriers earn 8 cents.
“That’s half a cent more than the Kansan,” Abby said.
Plus, delivering the newspapers is a good avenue for exercise, Abby said.
With hot weather, one challenge carriers experience is staying well-hydrated.
Both girls said they take time to stop for a drink while doing their routes.
A challenge they sometimes face are dogs on their routes.
Lydia said she got bit by a dog since delivering for the Free Press.
The nip left a mark but didn’t break the skin, she said.
The Kliewer sisters agree their customers appreciate when care is taken in delivering their newspapers.
“We always make sure the paper is on the porch, not in the bushes,” Abby said.
When Abby and Lydia were first assigned their Free Press routes, they walked.
“We started out walking, but then Mom wanted us to finish faster.”
Now each Tuesday, the girls load their bikes on the family vehicle to go into town.
“Yeah, we’ll put them in the back of the truck,” Abby said.
Their mom requires the girls to wear helmets when using bikes to deliver the papers.
Abby’s route, designated “Purple,” is on the west side of town and she delivers to about 100 patrons.
Lydia’s is on the east side, the “Wildcat” route, with 125 patrons. A friend usually helps her, she said.
“We kept our bags from (delivering) the Newton Kansan, so we can do it on the bikes,” Lydia said, and Abby added, “They go on the handlebars.”