A Page from North Quabbin History: Paperboy memories

  • This framed copy of the 1963 Athol Daily News covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Carla Charter pf Phillpston. Paul Franz

Published: 3/14/2023 3:51:49 PM
Modified: 3/14/2023 3:51:29 PM

By Carla Charter

Scott Robinson remembers being an 11-year-old paperboy for the Athol Daily News, selling newspapers in front of the L.S. Starrett Company. One day in particular though stands out. November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

“David Muzzy and I had paper routes at Starrett. David had the main office and I had the factory. On the day of the assassination, I was walking home from Riverbend School, up the hill by Union Twist Drill and a fellow from the Athol Daily News drove by. He asked me if I was a paperboy for the Athol Daily News and told me I had to get to the Athol Daily immediately,” he said.

The news office at the time, Robinson explained, was on Main Street.“We walked down the side of the library alleyway to the Athol Daily News. The circulation director was waiting for us kids. He said remember the Little Rascals when they stood on the New York street corner screaming Extra! Extra! read all about it? Today is your day,” Robinson said.

“He loaded Dave and I with papers and we ran from the Daily News, up Main Street and past Town Hall. We took a left onto Crescent Street and went into the building. At that time the wooden building was a polishing room. It was populated with 20 to 30 women, running the polishing machines.” Usually, Robinson explained, he would wait outside the Starrett factory every day and sell papers from 4-5 p.m. when the workers would file out and buy a newspaper from him. This day instead, Robinson went directly into the building.

“There were rumors (about the assassination), no one exactly knew what was going on and I was mobbed by the workers. The papers were 7 cents at the time. They were throwing me dimes and quarters for a paper, I was yelling that I could not make change. Back in those days there were no radios at work, there were no cell phones. There were just rumors. Everybody heard rumors and they were frantic to get a paper.”

Robinson has other paper boy memories as well. Among them were Thursdays at Starrett’s when the workers would get paid in cash. “I would run errands for the workers in Department 9, an assembly department. Many of them would give me an envelope to run downtown to pay their electric bill or phone bill. In return I would get a quarter and would get a chocolate covered doughnut at the Athol Bake Shop, something they were famous for.” Robinson also recalled Mr. Green and Mr. McCobb, who set up a desk in the boiler room for him to do homework on.

Robinson said he delivered papers until he was 14, then was able to get a work permit and worked at Athol Memorial Hospital. In 1971 Robinson started working at Starrett and has now been there 52 years, currently working as a technical support person at the company.

Carla Charter is a freelance writer from Phillipston. Her writing focuses on the history of the North Quabbin area. Contact her at cjfreelancewriter@earthlink.net.

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