Chesterton Tribune

Going daily: Newspaper right to your door thanks to 50 years of Tribune carriers

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Second in a Series marking

fifty years of the daily Chesterton Tribune

By KEVIN NEVERS

Whatever other benefits daily publication of the Trib may have conferred on the community, one is very tangible and—if you wanted to rummage through the old boxes and file drawers piled in our offices—conceivably even quantifiable: it’s given hundreds and hundreds of Duneland kids their first job, as paper carriers.

Prior to Monday, April 3, 1961, you got your weekly Trib, published on Wednesdays, in one of two ways: either you bought it at a local drug or grocery store or you got it in the mail on Thursdays.

“A lot of men riding the train would get off in the Downtown, go buy a paper at the drug store on Wednesday, and take it home,” current publisher—then managing editor—Warren H. Canright remembers.

One of the basic ideas behind daily publication, though, was timely reporting, which would have meant next to nothing if subscribers did not, in fact, receive their newspapers on the day of publication. So a home delivery operation was established by circulation manager George Bourne, the brother of Canright’s wife, Betty. Weeks in advance of the inaugural daily edition, Bourne painstakingly mapped the delivery routes, recruited the kids who would walk them, and trained them.

The first 20 carriers (see any familiar names?):

•In Chesterton: David Clark, Roy Shepard, Jerry Flatz, John Kosmatka, Charles Feete, Thomas Lee, Paul Hrapek, Dick Nelson, Robert Samands, Larry Putchaven, Jim Kosmatka, Jack McBride.

•In Porter: Kenneth Johnson, Stephen Fuller.

•East Oakhill Road and Waverly Road: Bobby Weeks.

•Tremont North: Sam Arnold.

•Tremont South: Douglas Pell.

•Graham Woods: Kurt Dasse.

•Furnessville: Sally Bley.

•Portchester (now Burns Harbor): Donald Callaway.

What did the kids do with their route money? Tom Lee, one of the original 20, recalls. “I delivered papers through high school and the best thing I could spend my money on was dates. My parents didn’t give me a dime. So I spent my paper money on dates. And on BBs for my Daisy. A pack of BBs cost 25 cents and I’d buy packs of BBs for my Daisy.”

Current managing editor Dave Canright—who learned the business literally from the pavement up—dropped his route money at State Park Drugs in the 100 block of Broadway. “Vanilla cokes at the soda fountain and comic books, Sergeant Rock and a bunch of Superman that would be worth a million dollars today if I hadn’t thrown them away. My parents wouldn’t let me get comic books, so I’d buy one, read it while I was walking my route, and then throw it away before I got home.”

Lee has one other specific memory. “My parents were quite happy when the paper went daily. I remember them saying ‘Now we don’t have to wait a week to see who passed away.’ Before I’d hear them say ‘Oh, darn, we missed that funeral.’ So they were glad.”

Motor Carrier Routes

You could also still buy the Trib at the store for 5 cents per copy (a quarter a week, a buck per month), while the subscription rate “by carrier boy” (or girl: Sally Bley in Furnessville) was the same: $1 per month.

If carrier service was available in your area, however, you could not get a mail subscription, which the Trib now reserved for folks who lived in the unincorporated rural areas (cost: $7 per year, $4 for six months, $2.50 for three months). Those folks continued to receive their daily Trib—as they’d received their weekly one—on the day after publication.

As it happened, the Trib actually experienced an initial drop in circulation after going daily, when the rural subscribers found day-after mail delivery—five times a week—a little overwhelming. “They were all right getting a weekly in the mail but they couldn’t cope mentally with getting a daily in the mail the next day,” Canright says. “Eventually we went into home delivery with the drivers, after one of the guys delivering bundles to the carrier boys said ‘I can just as well deliver papers on my way.’ That kind of eased us into the motor routes.”

For the record: there are now 46 walking delivery routes and nine motor carrier.

Some Blasts from the Past

Plenty of other people, on the other hand, liked the daily format and put their money where their mouths were: by buying ads congratulating the Trib on its venture.

The Monday, April 3, 1961, edition carried good wishes from Vawter Food Center at Eighth Street and Broadway; from Lowenstine’s in Valparaiso; a full-page ad from Chesterton State Bank; and another from a host of Porter businesses: Porter Carry Out, Porter Hardware, Porter Barber Shop Meltz’s Inn, Collins Shell Service, Imhof Pharmacy, Vi’s Apparel Shop, Pillman’s Spot Lite Food Store, Tilden’s Feed & Supply, First State Bank of Porter, Seter, and Porter Lumber & Coal Company.

And in later editions there were congratulatory Voices of the People too: from Aileen Trump of the League of Women Voters of Westchester Township and Al Krieg of U.S. Steel Corporation.

But give the last word to Ione F. Harrington in her VOP on April 3:

“The roots of the Chesterton Tribune are deep in the heart of Chesterton, Porter, and Westchester Township. Involved citizens, business, industry, clubs, schools, and churches are deeply indebted to our paper for its excellent reporting, its integrity, its loyalty and service to our community through the years.

“‘Pride in one’s community is the greatest gift an individual or business can contribute to that community.’ The Chesterton Tribune is demonstrating that faith and pride by its decision.”

Posted 4/5/2011