Today we celebrate the hiring of the first U.S. paperboy, on this date in 1833.
His name was Barney Flaherty, and he was hired by the publisher of the New York Sun. He was just ten years old.
The “paperboy” was a fixture of suburban lifestyles and boyhood for years. The paperboy would ride around town on his bike with a heavy bag crossed over his body, tossing newspapers onto driveways, being chased by dogs, and waving a cheery hello to the townspeople. It was one of the few jobs that a kid (usually a boy) could hold, and so it was very important to young people.
Those days are pretty much gone. At least in Southern California, we rarely see a teenager on a bike with a bagful of newspapers. Instead, newspaper carriers tend to be adults driving cars at the crack of dawn. Also, far fewer people subscribe to newspapers than in the past; for most news and entertainment, the internet is faster and much more informative.
Another kind of newsboy went extinct earlier: the kid hawking newspapers on city street corners with the cry, “Extra, extra! Read all about it!”
Are there any jobs left for kids? Sure, some people will still pay pre-teens and teenagers to babysit, mow lawns or do other yard work, walk dogs or petsit, wash cars or clean windows. I still see kids selling lemonade. And some kids are creative enough to earn money a hundred other ways. One kid I know decorates T-shirts with air-brush or puffy paint, and another decorates T-shirts with stenciled designs. A kid I know not only walks dogs and pet sits, but she also does obedience training for dogs and their owners. One of the most exciting small businesses I've heard of recently is Caine's Arcade: a 9-year-old boy built an elaborate cardboard arcade, with some very surprising results.
Here are some tips for starting a business.
Also on this date: