Something in the News about Newsboys

FRANKLIN MASON

May 22, 1992|By FRANKLIN MASON

He found he was worrying again, a thing he did frequently of late. This time it was about newsboys. He had not heard nor seen nor even thought of newsboys for untold years and now he was worrying.

He read about them in the paper, an appropriate place to read of newsboys. It had to do with taxes. But then, he thought, everything has to do with taxes, unless it was death. And maybe even that. They tax you to death, then tax you after death.

But this was a new tax. It was on newspapers, even on the very young, the young paper carriers.

Well, he certainly didn't like that, doing that to the young. But, on the other hand, it sort of pleased him. He was glad to hear newsboys were still around. He hadn't heard about them since who knows when.

He always liked newsboys. He remembered them way back, before television, even before radio. Newsboys were really big back then. It was great to hear and see them. He always heard them before he saw them, they raised a racket, yelled their heads off. He knew something big had happened but wasn't sure what.

He heard the yelling and then saw the source. Newsboys always looked as good as they sounded. They always wore caps, were more than a bit ragged, and not entirely clean.

They were everywhere, went everywhere. They hopped on one end of a streetcar, ran through, hopped off the other end. They yelled outside ball parks and racetracks. They went inside ball parks and racetracks and yelled some more.

He was sorry he was never a newsboy. Newsboys knew life, knew it doubly, not only sang the words of life but always seemed to be where it was. They were always in the midst of life.

He was sure newsboys amounted to something. He was sure many famous men were once newsboys, though he couldn't remember names. Horatio Alger always wrote of them and they all became famous. That was why he wasn't famous, he thought. He had never been a newsboy.

Still he knew one thing. He knew well this most exciting thing. This was long and long ago. He'd be in bed at night asleep, maybe sound asleep. It made no difference. Then he'd hear it, then hear it deep within him.

It was the call of the newsboy, the newsboy calling ''EXTRA!'' It rang in the street in the night. What hath the newsboy wrought?

Turn back the clock now. He'd give it all up now, give up the television, the radio. If he could only bring it back, if he could hear again the call of the newsboy in the night.

Still, what could he do now? He could only hope. He hoped newsboys were all right, if there were still newsboys. He hoped they would make out all right, make out all right with taxes or whatever. He wished them well. He hoped they'd go on to become famous. Or better still, he hoped they'd go on being newsboys.

Franklin Mason is a retired Evening Sun copyreader.

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