Growing Up in Kellogg, Part Five

By John Vivian

In those days, young boys delivered newspapers door to door. You had to be twelve. I’m not sure why. At eleven, I decided I was old enough, and when I applied at the Kellogg Evening News, the editor, Wendell Brainerd, didn’t ask my age. Mr. Brainerd, a kind and wise man who knew everything, probably was fully aware of my age. But, hey, this was Kellogg in 1956 and rules were bent all the time. Besides, the kid on the West Brown Avenue route had just quit. The paper needed a new boy. Besides, my earnestness may have helped. I got my first job.

The Evening News was the preferred paper to deliver, at least for me. The Spokesman-Review from Spokane was a seven-day morning paper and heavy. The Spokesman boys earned more, but they had to get up at 4 or 5 a.m. every day. The Kellogg paper, in contrast, was a thin sheet, usually six pages, although Thursday could be twelve or sixteen. Too, being an evening paper, the Evening News was an after-school, not pre-dawn job. The third paper for home-delivery, the Spokane Chronicle, would have been a good alternative in terms of hours. It too was an evening paper. But it was heavier than the Kellogg paper and was published six days a week, which would interfere with my family’s weekend jaunts, which I valued.

I enjoyed delivering papers. My route began on Division with a plumbing shop, Reiske’s photo studio and gag shop, and three houses tucked in a hollow behind the Yellowstone Garage, where they sold Plymouths and Dodges in those days. Then I headed west on West Brown Avenue. I found quiet humor in the fact that my first customers with the Greens, whose boys were Keith and Burl, and Blacks, whose boy was my classmate John at Sunnyside School. Green and Black on Brown Avenue, get it? Next to the Blacks were the Mabes. Dennis was a classmate too. I had neat people on the route. The Damianos. The Wourinens. The Amoses. The Hickmans. The single mom who cooked at the Sunshine Inn. A randy old pensioner who somehow kept a lush garden despite the smelter smoke and peppered his language with vulgarities I had never heard. Remember, please, I was eleven and in our house some things just weren’t discussed in either clinical terms or street language. Euphemisms were the rule.

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Published by John Vivian

John Vivian began his journalism career with the Kellogg Evening News in 1963 and continued with United Press International and the Associated Press. He recently retired as a journalism professor. He wrote the most widely adopted college textbook in the field, The Media of Mass Communication, now in its twelfth edition. He lives in Minnesota but his heart is in the Idaho Panhandle, and he visits every year.