STILL DELIVERING: In 2019 Merv Smidt helped distribute gifts to bushfire victims for the Clarence Christmas Bushfire appeal as a volunteer for the Salvation Army.
STILL DELIVERING: In 2019 Merv Smidt helped distribute gifts to bushfire victims for the Clarence Christmas Bushfire appeal as a volunteer for the Salvation Army.

Tales of a paperboy and The Daily Examiner

In these last stages of The Daily Examiner printed editions there has been requests for readers to send in their stories.

I may have been one of the longest serving ‘paperboys’ and thought I should contribute. To be a paperboy you had to be 14 years old but due to a recommendation from the late Jack Smidt, Mr Dunlop allowed me to start before my 14th birthday. Except for a short time off with a sore knee I continued delivering the paper on push bike until after my 17th birthday. About the time I entering the second year of an apprenticeship at Gordon Woods I gave it away.

The most important thing in the day of the editor and his staff was to get The Daily Examiner ‘out’. It also seemed the most important event of the day for the mill worker, the shire work, the employees of our many factories and business’s or the housewife staying at home was to read the Examiner while having breakfast.

It was the paperboy who got the paper from the end of the printing press to the front veranda before breakfast.

In this tribute to all past paperboys I will quickly as I can tell you what was entailed. We arrived at King Street in the dark as the paper came off the printing press. I would count out the number of papers required for my run then sit on the concrete floor and fold the papers before putting them into the hessian bag draped over the handlebars of my bike and set off to South Grafton to do my run.

South Grafton had three runs, Big Hill (west of Kelly St), Little Hill (east of Kelly St) and Ryan Street (Ryan St and lower area of South Grafton).

This happened every day of the year except Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday.

For a period of time I was the relief boy for South Grafton which meant you went every day but rotated runs each day so that you knew every house in South Grafton to be delivered the paper and to be up to date on who stopped the paper and when they restarted if they were away for some reason. If a paperboy didn’t turn up for any reason the relief boy had to know and do his run.

Regardless of how heavy the torrential rain was leading up to a flood, no matter how cold and dark the winters morning was or how foggy it might be the paperboy did his job on his bike.

The Daily Examiner was a big employer in those days and many men and women were involved in getting the paper ‘out’ but no one else worked in the conditions that the 14/15 year old kid did that was delivering the paper.

I have countess stories of experiences with savage dogs, gates opened outwards across the footpath and other hazards in the dark.

I also have fond memories of kind ladies who would have a bottle of cordial or a small gift at Christmas time for the paperboy.

We were so skilled at “throwing’ the paper we could send it through the air like a frisbee without it flying to pieces and land it on a veranda out of the rain.

Thursday afternoon was payday. Straight after school you shot over to the Examiner office where the young and lovely Elinor See would have your pay ready. $5 per week plus 75 cents bike allowance.

From there straight around to Langley’s for a milk shake and then up to Snelling’s Menswear to pay a dollar off the shirt or pair of shorts you had on laybuy.

I am going to miss picking my Examiner from the front yard each morning.

Thank you The Daily Examiner for the memories and take a bow all you paperboys out there that are now in your 60s, 70s and 80s.

—Mervyn Smidt. South Grafton