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Mr. Blincoe Remembers Selling Newspapers as a Boy—Essay

In the late 1930s, when Mr. Blincoe was just nine years old, he and his brother sold newspapers to help their family earn money. Years later, he wrote an essay to tell about this time in his life. An essay is a short piece of writing in which a person shares his or her thoughts, ideas, or memories. Essays about the past can teach us about what life was like long ago. A section of Mr. Blincoe's essay is shown below.


Primary Source

I was 9, and Bobby was 7, so we were too young to get jobs…. [A] neighbor's son…suggested we sell newspapers for him…. Papers sold for 3¢ each, and the newsboys kept a penny for each paper they sold…. We started selling papers, and we looked forward to going to work every afternoon after school…. [Bobby] could sell three papers for every one I sold…. Maybe it was because he was smaller, maybe he was more persistent, or maybe he just yelled louder. If you wanted to make any money, you had to hustle.

Excerpt from “Extra! Extra! Newsboys Earned Their Own Cash for ‘Kid Stuff,’” by Don Blincoe Sr., p. 17 of We Had Everything but Money, edited by Deb Mulvey, Reiman Publications, L.P., Greendale, WI, 1992.


Background

In the late 1930s, many U.S. families had difficulty paying all their bills. There were more jobs in the late 1930s than a few years earlier, but the jobs paid very little. Families worked hard to make whatever money they could. Even the children helped out. Some children sold newspapers on the street to earn extra money. Don Blincoe and his brother became newsboys so they could help out their family. In exchange for their hard work, their mother gave them 10 cents apiece each Saturday to go to the movies.