Celebrating our paper kid history
by Taylor Clyne
FOR the last 108 years, the North Eastern Advertiser has proudly employed local children as paper kids to hand deliver the newspaper.
Around half of the Advertiser’s circulation, approximately 1200 copies, are still delivered weekly by our iconic paper kids, often the role of youngsters aged between 7 – 16 years.
Today we are recognising and celebrating the history of over 100 years of children who are or were once paper kids, many of whom are now successful businessmen and women.
The task of a paper kid, both boys and girls, was to distribute printed newspapers in Scottsdale and Bridport to homes, offices and subscribers on a regular route, in rain, hail or shine.
The position started with the Advertiser bi-weekly, when publishing days were Tuesdays and Fridays, until April 4 1975 when the paper changed to once a week, published on a Thursday.
The reason for the change was published on the 22nd March 1975 stating,
‘Today will be the last publication of The Advertiser on a Tuesday, this has been brought about by a heavy increases in production costs and postage. It will also be necessary to increase the price of ‘The Advertiser’ to 10cents per copy from 7cents.’
The paper, then owned by Kevin Haas was printed on-site in Scottsdale using the hot metal printing operation.
Back then there were two types of ‘paper kid’ positions, one being the employment of children after school to fold printed sections of the paper together hot off the press.
The other position was to deliver the newspapers the following morning all over the town.
Well-known local personality and business owner, Ted Whelan began working as a paperboy when he was 13 years old in 1966.
Ted and his mate Neville Jones nicknamed ‘Boo’, now located in Sydney, delivered the whole Scottsdale round together by bike twice a week at 6am.
“I worked delivering papers for around three years before I was replaced (given his marching orders).
"You see I was heavily involved in the swim club at that time too and had training early mornings. This clashed with our paper round so I decided to deliver half my round the night it went to press,” said Ted.
This was of course a cheeky way to make the job work with his other commitments and potentially receive an extra tip for delivering the paper a day early to readers.
At that time and even today a paper round was an excellent way to make some money; Ted recalls other jobs at the time being very labour intensive.
“There used to be a line of 12 boys at Bert Farquhar’s gate to get a job hoeing thistles for $3 an hour.”
Now 50 years later Ted is still selling the Advertiser over the counter at his butcher shop, and remains one of our favourite correspondents.
Over the last few decades the Advertiser has employed many well-known families from the North-East many of whom have excelled in high level working life positions
Today the North Eastern Advertiser employs over 16 local kids for extensive rounds in Scottsdale and Bridport, with the hope to extend this to St Helens in the future.
We are one of only a few independently owned newspapers still using paper kids as a legitimate form of delivery in Australia.
These days a paper round is like gold and is passed down through families once the child reaches year 10 or the equivalent in age.
Just one of our paper families from Bridport, the Watt family, headed by devoted father Darren, have been doing their round for 15 years and, by the time the last child finishes it will have been a 21 year employment with the family.
This year we will say goodbye to three of our paper kids who are graduating from grade 10.
One of whom is Bailey Crack, who has been doing her paper round since she was in grade 5 around the Northbourne and Hospital route in Scottsdale.
“For the last five years I’ve been treated by the residents on my round, like all of us, with chocolates, conversations, some fancy knitted soap holders and awesome tips, especially at Christmas.
“I have loved being a paper kid and I know my sister Georgia, who has been coming with me for the last few weeks, is excited to take when I go to College,” said Bailey.
The tradition of hand delivering the Advertiser is just one of the ways to connect in a meaningful manner with our readers every week.
It goes without saying that behind every paper kid is a team of wonderful parents and grandparent supporting their job.
The North-Eastern Advertiser would like to extend a thank you to all past and present paper kids, as well as our loyal readers; you have played a vital role in the longevity of our newspaper’s success.