Our family moved from the Whipple Creamery Dairy farm to the "bottoms," now called East Norwood in Marietta, Ohio in 1933. My Dad had received his WWI bonus and wanted to leave farming for work in town. My Mom agreed because she didn't want me to ride a bus to Marietta High School where I was to go that fall of 1933. Our family was Dad (Harry Simon Zoller), Mom (Clara Leora Zoller), me (Harry Adam Zoller, 12), brother (Albert James Zoller, 10) and little brother (Howard Calvin Zoller, 4). The bottoms were in the flood plain of Duck Creek which flowed into the Ohio. We had a little two bedroom rancher. Howard slept on the couch in the living room. He had pneumonia that year.
We were flooded out of that house in the spring of 1934. When I went to school one morning, the water was up to the little road behind our house. When I came home from school, the community was flooded, only the chimney of our house showed above the muddy waters. Albert and I were instructed to go to Aunt Leona's house in Norwood that was dry and had "flush" toilets. We moved to another rental house but out of the flood plain along the railroad tracks that bounded the community on the north along Route 26. Albert went to the hospital one day from that house to have his appendix removed. It was shocking to me. It cost $50 which my Dad paid off at $5 a month. That was health care in those days of the Great Depression.
I promptly got a job delivering The Marietta Times. It paid me about $3.50 a week. Now I could buy clothes-they were cheap then. I could buy my books, usually second hand. The school system didn't furnish us with books. I could take my brother Albert to the cowboy movies on Saturday night and celebrate with triple dip ice cream cones (15 cents) at the ice house on our way home. There were no street lights beyond the city limits. You had to know where the pot holes were so you didn't "break your neck" walking home on dark nights. We were little business men. The Times sold us the papers; we collected on Saturday and paid for them. We got new customers when someone new moved into a house on our route. I lost money when a customer moved owing me money but no forwarding address.
Photo courtesy of Marietta College Special Collections
Newsboys ready to hit their routes gather in this undated photo outside the Marietta News Company magazine and newspaper stand.
Paper boys got out of high school at 3 p.m., others got out at 3:30. We walked about a half mile to the Times office on Putnam Street to wait for papers to roll off the big press. The boys had good camaraderie while waiting and reading the news fresh off the press. There was a lot in the news at that time. Our new president, FDR was proposing new programs to get us out of the Great Depression. Hitler was coming to power in Germany; Il Duce was trying to build an empire in Ethiopia and Libya in North Africa. Spain was having a civil war. Stalin was imposing Communism on Russia. It was a time of turmoil and we had a front row seat.
My route started at a junkyard (automobiles) at the intersection of Pike and Greene. I delivered to the owner's big house which was guarded by a "junkyard" dog, a big German shepherd that watched me as I watched him. Next was delivery to a little collection of houses making up an Afro-American community? Mr. Webster was my next customer. He was an old man with snow white hair and he loved to have a conversation. I had to climb at least 100 steps straight up a hill over bare rock face to his big white house. The house at the top of the hill was secured with steel cables attached to giant oak trees to keep it from sliding down the hill. I knew Mr. Webster because Uncle Ralph was going with his daughter Charlotte. I rested and had a chat with him and drank a cup of water. I delivered all along Ridge Road at the top of the hill and then up and down three streets ending up at West Spring Street. At the bottom of the hill was the big brick house of Judge O'Neill. The backyard was enclosed by a 10-foot wood fence that housed guard dogs who threw themselves against the fence at anyone passing by. His oldest son William graduated two years ahead of me and went on to become Governor of Ohio. I hand delivered to a sweet old lady neighbor who had terrible arthritis that crippled her hands. We folded the papers and threw them on the covered front porches. Sometimes they would sail in the wind to land on the porch roof but we carried extras just for such an occasion. Home at last, I ate supper, did my homework on the kitchen table and got ready for another day. I know I walked at least five miles a day which gave me very sturdy legs. In later years at high school reunions, the paper boys got together to reminisce about those years.
After high school, the Times gave me a new route. I rode a bus (a stretch limousine) about 30 miles up a highway along the Muskingum delivering newspapers. I threw out at farm lanes along the highway. I rode in the front seat beside the driver and threw the news out to the farmers. At a bus stop at the end of my route, I rode a bus back to Marietta. I went to college in the fall of 1938 and worked part-time at the college which ended my paper delivery. The part-time work was courtesy of The National Youth Administration set up by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In recent years I visited the new Times office. The Times handles all the subscriptions. All the "paper boys" have to do is to deliver. I fondly remember those years when I earned money at my first job. I was never without a job from then until I retired at 65 years of age. I hear the echo in my ears of the Protestant work ethic "We are not here to play, to dream, to drift - we have hard work to do." My mother ascribed to this. In her short journals that I have, she ends each day with "I got my work done today."