Home » ARTSY FARTSY » JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories, Early Toil “Paperboy”– & (119) ARTSY Cloth, Bone, Feathers

JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories, Early Toil “Paperboy”– & (119) ARTSY Cloth, Bone, Feathers


There was one specific doorway that I always remember.  I used to look forward to this point on my route.  There was a long stairway lit by light bulbs that went right up to the second floor on the inside of the building and the downstairs door was always open.  You could see the landing up there and there was a scrub pail set right in the corner.  The first couple of weeks I just threw the paper up on the landing.  One day, just by accident, when I threw the paper up, it hit the wall behind, and it went katunk!  It bounced right off that wall like it was a backboard on a basketball court, and landed in the pail.  Shepherd had canned another three pointer.

The next day I tried to do it and I just missed, but every day that was my big moment, and I got so I was really great at it.  Remember, I was riding on a bike—this was not a stationary shot.  I’d go swooping past this door—and zap!  Oddly enough, I never saw it go into the pail because I was already past the door, but I’d hear it go bump-bump and bang.  Oh!  That meant it was going to be a good day!

These little things are very important to a newsboy.  Another little satisfaction is to learn how to really fold papers.  You can tell how good a newsboy is by how small he can fold the paper.  The smaller the paper is folded the more you can get in the sack, the less bulk the sack takes up, and the better the paper throws!  At first I really envied the other guys.  Flick had started before I did and he was fantastic!  He could fold fifty papers in about five minutes flat.  Hard as a rock.  I had no more papers than he did, but my sack was gigantic, like Santa’s bag, and Flick would just have this little sack hanging on him.   He would take a ten-pound, end-of-the-week-and-full-of-ads Chicago Tribune and fold it to the size of an Eversharp pencil.  Unbelievable!  I began to work on my paper-folding technique and after about a month-and-a-half, I was one of the great paper-folders of our time.  Even Flick came over to me one day and said, “By God, you can do it!”  Like being told by Roger Maris, “You got a good swing, kid.”

You can handle this newspaper—it’s just a poor little piece of paper and you can learn to control it.  You can ultimately learn to be a pretty good shot riding a bike and throwing a side-arm shot to the upper deck.

More to come of “Paperboy.”




Featherwork has become an important part of

our household decor because of

an Inca belt and elegant feather hats.

This piece (a belt or what?), also bought in the Cuzco fabric store, is 38” X   2.5”, with the repeated feather-motif of llamas in orange, black, and white. I showed it to the world-renowned anthropologist who specialized in pre-Columbian textiles at the museum where I worked. He turned the feather work over to view the backing cloth and immediately told me that it was authentic Inca (pre-1520).

(He was amazed that it had cost me only $15. He seemed unperturbed that I’d bought pre-Columbian material. The younger anthropologist I worked with on our permanent South American Hall much disparaged buying this material, because those who found it were in the business of digging up pre-Columbian sites, thus removing the material that belonged to that country’s heritage and destroying accurate, scientific investigation of it–I understand that view in theory, but in practice, I’ve bought minor pieces. When I discovered, in an auction catalog, a large casting of a famous pre-Columbian piece for sale (the Raimondi Stela), he wanted it for our Hall, but would not set foot in the pre-Columbian sale gallery for fear of being seen there, so I went to the auction with Museum money and won the piece for our use.)

A few years ago my wife, Allison, became interested in feather hats and has acquired over a dozen. (They were very popular from the nineteenth century until recent years when new ones were prohibited because of endangering various species of birds. One can still buy older ones in some vintage clothing stores.) They are truly beautiful and varied in their colors. We have some on the walls in our living room, dining room, and bedroom.


(Photos for “Cloth, Bone, and Feathers”

by Allison Morgan Bergmann)



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