Greene County Arkansas

The Paragould Daily Press

Monday, August 29, 1983


Retiree recalls delivering newspapers in 1912

Though time falls across his memories like a heavy snow, Clyde Hester recalls the long days he spent as an 11-year-old paper carrier for the Daily Press in 1912.

He reported to the paper everyday after school. In 30 minutes, he rolled his 100 papers or so without the benefit of string or rubber bands. He explained the process and the combination of both folding and rolling in such a way that "my papers always stayed folded."

He said he often did not return from his rounds until 9 or 10 p. m.

The son of Tom Hester, a local butcher who owned a slaughterhouse on Linwood Drive, Hester grew up with four sisters and a brother at his birthplace, 408 E. Emerson St.

Hester lives there today with his wife Catherine in an apartment above the garage. His sister Hazel Vaughn lives in the house.

He first went to work with his father in the slaughterhouse during summer vacation when he was 7.  When he delivered papers for the Daily Press, he often did double duty delivering meat for his father. The family had two horses, Joe and Dan, that provided transportation.

In that day few people had any means to keep meat from spoiling, so it had to be delivered fresh daily. Consequently,  Hester's days as early as they had lasted late -- up before dawn to deliver meat to hotels, restaurants and many homes. "There wasn't a house built in town built before 1925 that I haven't been in," he figured, except for the house owned by the butcher who competed with his father.

The only people he remembers from his days at the Daily Press were a press operator named Jeff Henderson and a Linotype operator named Hubert Hooper. Linotype machines set type cast from hot lead and were for years the only means of typesetting, only giving way to electronic typesetting in the past two decades. Completely outdated now, Linotype  machines lie unused in forgotten corners of many newspapers and printers as reminders of another era.

The slow method of producing the daily text limited the paper in size and scope. "Of course, the paper wasn't as big as it its now," Hester recalled.

Newspaper delivery has also evolved considerably since Hester made his rounds by horse. Bicycles soon became the chief mode of newsboy transport, followed by another two-wheeled machine -- the motorcycle.

Hester carried the news for only a year, he said. The pay, $10 per month, was the reason. "Couldn't make no money," he explained.

Money was important to young Hester, who was anxious to make his own way. He quit school after the seventh grade to take up his father's trade. He left Paragould in 1927 to go to Memphis to work as a butcher, and subsequently worked in Grenada,  Miss., and Durant, Miss., as well.

A fall disabled him to the point he could no longer handle the large carcasses and he returned to Paragould in 1937. Here, he sold automobiles for Jeff Roland Dodge before retiring with his memories.

Transcribed by: Sandy Hardin

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