The IJN isn’t the only newspaper around town celebrating anniversaries. Earlier this month, the Denver Post marked its 125th. Among the photographs featured in its Sunday, Aug. 13 article on the momentous occasion, was that of Tom Payne, a newsboy.
I thought instantly of my grandfather, Max Goldberg, who started his illustrious media career as exactly that — a Post newsboy.
My grandfather was seven when his father, Charles, died of the Spanish Flu, leaving behind a wife and nine children. From what I understand, none of the children dropped out of school, but all began contributing financially to the family’s upkeep. (For all I know, the older kids were already contributing even before their father died.) My grandfather was recruited by his older brother Willie to join the ranks of Post newsboys on the thrilling — sometimes scandalous — streets of downtown Denver.
Although, thankfully, we’ve come a long way from young children needing to work to help support their family — at least in Denver’s Jewish community — it’s the lack of seasonal employment among kids that should be of concern, because it means that pre-teens and teens are missing out on valuable life experiences and skill building. The Post had an article about this some months back, entitled something like “Whatever happened to the Saturday job?” The article pointed to two reasons: over-privilege/laziness (kids just don’t need the money anymore, or don’t deem the minimum wage earned worth their effort), or the pressure on kids to volunteer. due to the increasingly competitive college application process. Apparently, right or wrong, stocking shelves doesn’t impress the likes of Harvard.
No coincidence, my grandfather didn’t graduate from Harvard — nor from any university for that matter. That didn’t stop him from being a groundbreaker in his chosen field. Who knows? Maybe it even helped. I bet he learned a lot on those Denver streets, selling the Post for a nickel.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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