GREENVILLE – On Oct. 11, 1969, The Daily Advocate published a story by Helen Worner, “Olwine Family has Young Businessmen” with a sub story by Circulation Manager Fritz Worner, “Advocate Salutes Carrier Boys.”
Pictured are brothers Steve, Tom and Ed Olwine, with the souvenirs they had purchased on a trip to Disneyland that July. While they were in California, Apollo 11 was the first manned lunar landing mission with a crew of three astronauts: Mission commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module pilot Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin, Jr., to place the first humans on the surface of the moon on, July 20, Steve recalled. Between the article, the trip and the astronauts, it was a big year for the Olwines.
Steve carefully unfolded the original newspaper clipping from a baggy that his mother, Barbara, had written the date. The article said in part, “Because so many of you have been so successful in developing these habits, you have helped this newspaper to successfully serve Darke County residents in ever increasing numbers. So we salute you newspaper carriers, one and all.”
“It was a great experience,” Steve said of the paper route.
He recalls, with great clarity, the details of those five young years in his life as a paperboy, beginning in 1966. He started out with 54 customers.
“I got a route first,” he said. “Tom was next in line and our youngest brother Ed helped us out, who eventually got his own route. We had a lot of the south end of Greenville covered.”
The Olwines lived at the corner of Harrison Ave. and Bucoba Street, in Greenville, and in 1971 moved to just north of Greenville High School. Steve’s route was all of Burt Street and Southbrook Drive, the last two blocks of Wayne Ave. and the last block of Harrison Ave.
“At that time, Southbrook were brand new homes,” he said. “It used to be a gravel pit and we played there when we were little.”
Tom’s route was Harrison Ave. from Bucoba Street, all the way to Pine Street. Ed’s route was Wayne Ave. from Bucoba to Pine. The boys had about 300 customers between the three of them, which awaited them in bundles after school. They took them inside, rolled them up and bound them with rubber bands – which also came in handy for rubber band fights, Steve said.
“We threw them in the bags, took off on our bikes, reached back, grabbed one and tossed it onto a porch.” he said. “If it was raining, snowing or if the bike got a flat, we walked the routes and sometimes mom (Barbara) and dad (Bob) helped. After the routes came homework. If we had any time left we played until the street lights came on, and then we had to be home.
“Friday nights after the routes and collecting was done, after mom cleaned off the dishes and the supper table was open, we each had a section of the table and we all got the money (mostly coins) that we collected and counted it all out,” Steve said. “Saturday we had to come in and pick up our newspapers in the alley, to deliver, plus pay our bill for the week.”
Saturday papers were picked up in the alley behind the newspaper office, which then was located on S. Broadway Street between where the U.S. Post Office and the Bicycle Shop are now. They literally got them hot off of the presses.
“We would go in the back of the building and it was really hot because they used hot lead back then for the presses,” Steve said.
The paper routes taught the brothers many lessons, such as: the value of money, how to treat and talk to people and responsibility. When Steve first started his route, a newspaper subscription was 35 cents a week, for six days. The boys collected that each week from their customers, dispensing coins from coin changers they wore on their belts. Some people tipped them all of the time, some waited and gave big tips at Christmas, Steve said. In addition to money, they were often treated to brownies and cookies.
“All of our customers were great,” Steve said. “One thing that my mother instilled in all three of us, she made absolutely sure that whoever gave us a tip, received a hand-written thank-you note.”
Some of their profits of about one cent per paper went to the Great Darke County Fair, which the boys attended daily. Some of it went to the Gulf Oil station on the corner of Bucoba and Sweitzer streets, where gas was 25 cents a gallon. The boys also mowed about 23 yards between them and shoveled snow. With newspapers being delivered mostly by mail, the opportunities for kids to have paper routes are rare these days. Steve feels lucky for the experience.
“It was a good upbringing and our parents instilled in us a great work ethic,” he said.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.