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Photo of the Month - September 2009

 Sub Station #62


        CRP&L Co. #807 on Kelton Avenue at Oak Street where the Kelton Avenue shops, car house and storage yard were located.  The four track storage yard was behind the small building on the corner.  #807 was one of twenty cars built in 1924 for the Trenton & Mercer County Traction line in  New Jersey.  They came to Columbus in 1934.  To learn more about the low 800's click here.

Photo from the Jay Williams Collection

        The little building sitting on CRP&L Co. property behind the pickup truck was Columbus Dispatch Sub Station No. 62.  Sub Stations were where the newspaper boys gathered to pick up the Columbus Dispatch they delivered to the neighborhood.  Those little buildings were located all over the county.  The newspapers arrived in large orange step vans which were always in a hurry.  It seems as if they always arrived in a cloud of dust.  The driver would run to the back and start passing out bundles of papers.  The boys formed a line and passed the bundles into the Sub Station where they were unbundled, counted and given to the boys for delivery. 

        Wait, what does this have to do with railroads?  Read on.

        While this photo was taken during the war, my newspaper boy experience took place during 1953-54.  My Sub Station was in Worthington in a garage behind the Silcott home located on West New England Avenue.  The Silcott family ran the Sub Station for Worthington and a second one at Chase and High.  Mr. Gordon Silcott took care of the Chase Station and Mrs. Virginia Silcott the one in Worthington.  Daughter-in-law Gerry help and son George avoided any involvement at all, which was ironic as he was one of the first Worthington paper boys thus starting their business in the late 1930's.  By the 1950's the Silcotts were managing more then 40 boys.

        Mr. Silcott was never with out his normally unlit cigar turning slowly to pulp.  Mr. Silcott had been a dough boy (soldier) in WW I.  I am sorry I never had the wit to ask him about his war experiences.  George had been a paratrooper in WW II.  He went to war at way too young an age (17) and got caught up in the Battle of the Bulge which left a lasting, haunting impression on him.  He liked telling stories, but not about that battle. George Silcott was one of the founders of the  Ohio Railway Museum.  Every newspaper boy, and very occasionally girl, from the 1930's to the 1960's knew the Silcott family.

       On Wednesdays the weekly tabloid, "The Star", was also delivered.  Mrs. Silcott being a proper southern gentle lady and member of the local Presbyterian Church wouldn't let the newspaper boys look at the Star.  She didn't think it was fit for young eyes, and it wasn't.  Of course we looked anyway.

        Newspaper boy was a great first job for a preteen.  You got to handle money and meet a lot of your neighbors as well.  You got to go out in all manner of really bad weather which we all know builds character.  On Thursdays you would start collecting for the week by ringing the door bell and calling "collect".  On Saturday you would report to Mrs. Silcott to "pay your bill".  Anything left over was yours.  A newspaper route was typically 60-80 papers.  Christmas tips were the best of times, often $1 per customer.  A lot of boys waited until January to give up their route so they wouldn't miss the Christmas tips.

        Twice a year the Dispatch and Ohio State Journal, the morning paper, would hold a subscription drive.  They awarded  points for each subscription sold.  The big prize at 15 points was a trip on the train to Cleveland to see a sports event - football, baseball or hockey.  The Dispatch would partner with the Ohio State Journal, the morning paper and charter a train on the New York Central.  They would let the public buy tickets and ride along as well.  Sometimes they chartered two trains, one for the public and one for the newspaper boys.  Johnny Jones the local color columnist would ride along acting as host and later he might write about the trip.  The train made one stop at Delaware to  pick up more carriers then it was non-stop to Cleveland.

        The train was made up of old heavy weight passenger cars and pulled by a steam engine.  Many a boy that had never ridden a train before got their first train trip courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch and Ohio State Journal.  The hockey game was a bore, but the train ride was great fun.