BRISTOL - City Historian Bob Montgomery invites people to share their childhood memories of delivering newspapers Saturday for his “Tales of a Paper Boy” program at the Bristol Historical Society.
The program, which is free to attend, will begin at 1 p.m. at the historical society at 98 Summer St. It will feature two speakers in addition to Montgomery, then guests will be invited to share their own stories about “the good old days.”
Rit Pinette delivered newspapers during the 1960s, like Montgomery, and Robin Ferraro worked at The Bristol Press and managed paper boys from the office.
Montgomery said he was 12 years old when he and his brother Bill, 2 1/2 years older, delivered papers on their morning route. Sometimes, Montgomery said he would also trade routes with a friend who delivered papers in the afternoon. He said he still has dreams about accidentally mixing up the route he was doing.
“It was a funny feeling, like a whole different world,” said Montgomery. “As a kid, you were normally up at 7 a.m. to go to school. For this, you’d be up at 6 a.m. I would hop on my bike with a bag of 100 papers and deliver them to stops between Brook Street and Artisan Street.”
Montgomery said that when he was growing up there were only a few jobs available to people under 16. People could work on a tobacco farm or deliver newspapers.
“In those days, if you wanted a paper route, you would eventually get hired,” said Montgomery. “Some kids sold their routes to other people for $50. It was like having your own little business. It was very valuable and taught me that there’s a lot more to life that goes on in the early mornings; not everyone is asleep. There were people going out to work or eating breakfast at this one restaurant. I later learned that they were either going there before work or after returning home from working night-shift jobs.”
Montgomery said that people often used to get catalogs with toys such BB guns for which they would deliver newspapers to save up.
“You could buy things yourself if you worked for 10 weeks or so delivering papers,” said Montgomery. “And it meant more because you earned it with your own money.”
In Montgomery’s case, when he turned 16 he and his brother bought their first car to share: a 1955 Chevy convertible. Some of the money from Montgomery’s share came from his paper route.
Montgomery said that he was inspired to host this program after getting a lot of response from one of his “Bristol Bits” columns in The Press about paper routes. He encouraged people to share their experiences.
“Every now and then you hit a nerve,” said Montgomery. “People’s memories from when they were kids are often the best memories they had. There were so many little funny or interesting things that people have said happened to them along their routes. In winter, after it had snowed, my father would use a rope to hitch a sled to the back of his car. Then, he would drive me up the big hills. I did the same with my kids when they became paper boys.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or .