Archives Contest Entry: Paper Boy On a Unicycle

While the “I Found It in the Archives Contest” has concluded for 2014, we want to take this opportunity to share all of the fascinating entries that were submitted to the Ohio History Connection’s local contest. Special thanks to everyone who took time to share their story and show how much archives matter to our daily lives.

Walker

Sandra Walker


Quest for information:

In Everett, Washington, doing an online search for paperboy photos, I discovered the Joe Munroe Archives in the Ohio History Connection Archives/Library. From one photo, a story expanded.

Jillian Carney and Janice Tallman’s helpful service in November, 2011, made ordering the archived picture easy. And requesting it led me to professional photographer, Joe Munroe, age 94, residing in California. By December, I received the photo, labeled: Paper boy on unicycle, Bellefontaine, Ohio, 1952. This generated a plethora of questions, enriching the story of an American icon.

Writing to the Bellefontaine Examiner, news reporter Reuben Mees emailed me excellent details about the boy and his unicycle. A web of connections spread from Washington and Ohio to California and then Tennessee, for the subject in the photograph, Ed Boblitt.

Paper boy delivering newspapers on a unicycle in Bellefontaine, Ohio, 1952 by Joe Munroe.

Paper boy delivering newspapers on a unicycle in Bellefontaine, Ohio, 195- by Joe Munroe.


Made a difference:

Delivering papers, a monotonous routine, suddenly had a greater message: a unicyclist porching the daily paper represented the epitome of balance. The most common first job for youth held more significance than the simple task displays. Ed balanced physically, and, like other carriers, balanced the social and financial elements of the job. He knew his community and customers, including ones in the Mary Rutan Hospital.

Ed balanced his bottom line in weekly collecting for the three-cent paper. Because he was reliable, folks gave him more jobs. He managed his money, saved for his first car and for college. Time used with school, route, extra jobs, paperboys learned to balance between childhood and young adulthood.

LIFE magazine, June, 1953, with the colorful coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, also has pictures, not grand nor glorious, not pageantry but merely show Ed porching the newspaper. A common subject, the paperboy, holds universal appeal. More so, a unicycle was unique. Ed’s experiences enriched the paperboy story, revealing a theme of balance for the book, Little Merchants, The Golden Era of Youth Delivering Newspapers.

The Ohio Archives offer a smorgasbord of interesting material. Newspapers in the library enhanced the paperboy project, like a Columbus Dispatch photo and story of September, 1949. Paper carrier Station 52 won a tournament, exciting sports news of ordinary kids in their community.

From Ohio Archive searches, reading archived newspapers, a trove of shared information is available. A picture may be worth a 1,000 words. The unicycle photo and stories reach more than a 1,000 people.

By Sandra Walker

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