Courtesy of Anuta Research Center
An old two-story brick building that once anchored the corner of Quimby (6th Avenue) and Kirby Street (2nd Avenue) stands as a landmark of memories for ByeLines who launched his newspaper career there 70 years ago as a newspaper carrier. When he joined the newspaper full-time in 1955, the newsroom was located in small quarters directly in front of the open windows to the right where the first car is parked.
Courtesy of Anuta Research Center

An old two-story brick building that once anchored the corner of Quimby (6th Avenue) and Kirby Street (2nd Avenue) stands as a landmark of memories for ByeLines who launched his newspaper career there 70 years ago as a newspaper carrier. When he joined the newspaper full-time in 1955, the newsroom was located in small quarters directly in front of the open windows to the right where the first car is parked.

Seventy years in the newspaper trade may seem like an eternity to some readers, but for me it seemed like a shortened ride through life. From newspaper delivery boy to sports statistician and volunteer correspondent. From sports editor and general reporter to managing editor. From retirement to a once-a-week columnist.

Forty-one of the 70 years were spent as a full-time newsman and 23 years as a columnist in retirement. The latter service was my hobby in retirement. The other six years were spent either delivering the newspaper as a kid or serving as a volunteer correspondent as a teenager.

I scrubbed a lot of ink off my hands during what I consider to have been a joyful seven-decade journey. It’s time to thread the microfilm and replay parts of the journey.

Researching material for a weekly column devoted to local history is a time-consuming task. It can be challenging at times, but it’s fun. There’s so much history to write about in the life of Menominee and Marinette counties that no historian would live long enough to chronicle the triumphs and disappointments of the two counties, and the men and women who helped shape them.

I was in the seventh-grade at Epiphany School (located on the north side of the present-day Holy Spirit Catholic Church) when I began delivering the afternoon Menominee Herald-Leader. I added the morning Milwaukee Sentinel and Chicago Tribune to my schedule when World War II was humming in the early 1940s. It was a little rough getting up at 5 o’clock to meet the northbound train at the railroad station on State Street (7th Street) at Williams Avenue (9th Avenue.) We folded our papers in the confines of the depot and headed out on our routes.

I had two different routes at the Herald-Leader. Ludington Avenue (5th Avenue) was a smaller route before I was assigned Quimby Avenue (6th Avenue), a longer route and more profitable for a carrier.

The Herald-Leader route probably pointed me in the direction of my vocation. Carriers picked up their papers in the basement of the old two-story brick building at the corner of Quimby Avenue and Kirby Street (2nd Street). We found space on a, wooden bench to fold our papers, stuffed them in our bags and the way we went to make deliveries.

Friday was collection day. The Herald-Leader was 20 cents per week for six days of delivery. A customer lifted our spirits when they would give us a quarter and tell us to keep the change. A half-dozen customers like that made it possible for a sports freak like me to buy a sports magazine. The Sentinel and Tribune customers all paid directly to the newspaper office via mail.

Customers were anxious for their afternoon paper. They were interested in what was happening in the war. The newspaper was the No. 1 messenger. Television was a fantasy. The lone local radio station was only a few years in existence and it was based in Marinette. The Associated Press did a magnificent job of covering the war in Europe and in the South Pacific. “News From Our Boys,” was a popular column about the people in the armed forces. Another well-received column was written by Ernie Pyle, a much-admired war correspondent who wrote from the trenches and bunkers on the battlefield.

When I entered high school in the fall of 1945, I made certain my class schedule at some point would include journalism and print shop. Those two classes prepared me for a three-year stint as an unpaid sports correspondent for the Herald-Leader where I covered local baseball, fast-pitch softball and industrial league basketball. Fast-pitch softball and industrial league basketball drew heavy interest in their respective seasons. I turned my hand-written copy into Jim Ripley, a highly regarded sports editor at the Herald-Leader.

Following high school, came the Korean War and a two-year hitch in the Army, including a 14-month experience in Korea. After the conflict, I worked as a route salesman for Hansen Bottling Co. of Menominee.

Then one day I received a telephone call from Jim Ripley. He wanted to see me. Jean Worth, editor at the Herald-Leader, resigned to accept a position with the Escanaba Daily Press. Ripley was promoted to managing editor. The meeting with Mr. Ripley turned into a job offer as sports editor. I reported for duty in May 1955 and I’ve been around rolls of newsprint, barrels of ink, typewriters and computers ever since.

Ripley directed a small news staff. Bob Murphy was city editor and Lou Kehoe was society editor. Flo McDermott handled the Associated Press wire copy and Bernice Murphy (Bob’s wife) was our proofreader. Ripley was the only photographer on the staff, employing an old-fashioned and clumsy box press camera for shooting pictures. We had no dark room for developing photos. We took the film to Paul Ihde who ran a nice commercial photography business out of his home, which was about five blocks from the newspaper.

Pat Carpenter, who later became the first woman sports editor in the Twin Cities, was a typesetter who worked mostly on local copy and was considered a member of the news staff. Bob Vorachek, Ralph Brown, Harold Dunlap, Howard Cairns and Robert Lalonde were linotype operators. John H. Dunlap, Harold’s father, was their supervisor. Lewis Penl was in charge of page makeup and Joe Phelps was press operator. Tack on the advertising, circulation and business departments and the full-time crew numbered about 45 employees. Paris C. Monroe was president and publisher of the newspaper.

The Herald-Leader’s circulation at the time was about 5,700 customers compared to about 8,500 for the neighboring Marinette Eagle-Star. In those years the measuring stick for circulation was 3.6 people read the daily family newspaper. This meant the Herald-Leader had about 20,520 readers vs. 30,600 for the Eagle-Star.

My job went beyond the sports desk. I covered the police, sheriff and fire departments, and municipal court in Menominee, and city hall, police and sheriff in Marinette. The work week averaged about 50 hours, but news people don’t work by the clock. When a news story breaks, they’re supposed to be on the spot. It was a competitive business back then.

An opportunity came in 1963 to join the news staff at the Marinette Eagle-Star as a general reporter and sports writer. About four decades later, a time when newspapers across the country were in merger or buyout mode, the Herald-Leader and Eagle-Star became the EagleHerald.

I retired in December 1995 and was invited to write a weekly column on area history. The column ByeLines was born. Now 1,182 columns later, ByeLines closes the final chapter in a fascinating career.

Scads of people helped me along the way. So many, in fact, that I would need another page to list the roster. Publishers and general managers, editors, staff members — from newsroom to press room, and from advertising, circulation and business departments to the people who distribute the newspaper. And the army of folks who shared information with me for news, feature stories, columns, editorials and photos.

You keep thinking, one more year, one more year. You don’t want the magic to stop. It’s been an enlightening joyride, but like all joyful journeys, it’s time for this one to end.