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Letters: Paper shacks show Richmond has a heart

Richmond News reader had vivid and fond memories of the old paper shacks while growing up in Richmond
Paper shacks, such as this one believed to be in Richmond, evoked fond memories for people in the '60s and '70s.

Dear Editor,

Re: “Do you remember the paper shacks?” News, Jan. 14.

The paper shacks existed across Richmond in the 1950s when I was both a carrier and shack “manager.”

My job as a manager was to unpack the bundles of papers the trucks would drop off, count out each carrier’s individual allotments and stack them on their assigned spots on long counters, make inspirational posters for the interior walls and generally keep the shack clean and locked.

Large subdivisions were just starting to be built in Richmond in the 1950s and paper carriers had a lot of territory to cover between the farms and widely dispersed homes, so it was very important that we were in good physical shape and had bicycles and racks that were solid.

We had large canvas bags for the papers which we carried crossed over our shoulders, which could make balancing on your bicycle a real challenge. We were quite thankful that Richmond was flat, although some of us had routes that took us along unpaved roads which became very problematic in the winter.

I have many fond memories of my days as both a carrier and shack manager — a time before the farmers’ fields were taken over by housing subdivisions and “downtown” Brighouse was a two-lane road lined with mom & pop stores and the boarded-up stands of the old Minoru racetrack that had not yet been torn down.

The roads I cycled on were quiet and uncongested, and my customers were always extremely grateful for my deliveries.

Christmas time could be bountiful, and sometimes the collection of gifts, vegetables and fish that were given to me out-weighed the load of papers I had just delivered.

The newspaper shacks, and the gatherings of young boys and their bikes waiting out front for their turn to pick up their allotments were a familiar sight in Richmond and an integral part of my experience of growing up here in the 1950s.

It’s gratifying that Ken Gulliman’s Facebook post elicited a flood of responsive recollections, because it has provided evidence that this is a part of Richmond’s history that has not yet been totally forgotten.

Ray Arnold