Extra! Gangs of newsboys once ruled street corners in uptown Butte, Montana

Newsboys smoking.

Newsboys ruled uptown Butte, Montana, and other cities where news was a hot commodity.

By Kevin S. Giles

Newsboys once commanded the streets of uptown Butte, Montana, fighting each other for turf but uniting against newspaper publishers.

Hundreds of newsboys competed for prime selling spots: bars, the miners’ pay office, sections of the extensive red light district, card rooms and mine gates, streetcar stops, ballparks, churches and theaters, and anywhere else where large crowds might gather.

They bought newspapers at a wholesale price, sometimes two copies for a nickel, and then sold them for a nickel apiece to make a 100 percent profit.

Take me to Kevin's books: One Woman Against War, Summer of the Black Chevy, Jerry's Riot

 

In Butte’s early years, newspaper offices dotted the extensive business district. Cries of, “Paper, mister?” could be heard on every street corner. They sold the Standard, the Butte Miner, the Inter-Mountain, the Daily Bulletin, the Butte Daily Post, the Appeal to Reason, the Montana Socialist and others.

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Memories of summer jobs, and that oh-so-regrettable mosquito truck incident

Cousins Hugh Wales and Earl Cook (right) outside hop kiln, Yakima Valley, in the summer of 1967.

Cousins Hugh Wales and Earl Cook (right) outside hop kiln, Yakima Valley, in the summer of 1967.

By Earl Cook

Kevin’ S. Giles’ story, Summer of the Black Chevy, took me to a time and place where our community had a spirit of vitality and promise. Young Paul Morrison was typical of many young people then who started early on with some work after school, or on weekends, and then a summer job. Opportunities to work were plentiful.

I once delivered the news. Grade school. It was The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sunday edition, delivered Monday after dinner. Twenty cents a copy. It was a tough sell and I had but seven to 11 regular customers, for a very short run. It was hell going door to door in sub-zero temperatures. I believe my customers subscribed out of empathy. I got to keep a dime for each paper sold. And though I wasn’t going to get rich, it was worth its weight in “funny papers.”

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Rough and rumble on a hot August night in 1958 in Deer Lodge, Montana

Main Street in 1950s Deer Lodge, Montana

In the 1950s, Main Street in Deer Lodge, Montana, was a happening place with not one — but two — stop lights. Teenagers found the long wide street, also known as State Hwy. 10, great for cruisin’ (and sometimes looking for a bruisin’).

By Suzanne Lintz Ives

The gangs in my high school time were from Anaconda. Hairy girls tucked cigarettes packs into their rolled up T-shirt sleeves. They were tougher and meaner than bear. They were really scary.

One Sunday afternoon, a couple of those wild females ones from Anaconish (as we sometimes called the neighboring town of ruffians), were quietly strolling Main Street in Deer Lodge. My gang and I (five of us) were cruising the drag in my Dad’s Pontiac (the one with the clutch), when my buddy, Dood, yelled out the window, “Hey, look at that! Street walkers!”

That’s when the brown, sticky stuff hit the centrifuge …

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An author’s love letter to his native Montana, the ‘state of mind’

Deer Lodge National Forest

Snow and clouds obscure the Deerlodge National Forest in southwestern Montana. Photo by Paula Krugerud. Western Montana is a canvas of unspoiled mountains, ripe for a writer’s (and photographer’s) imagination.

By Kevin S. Giles

Dear Montana,

You stole my heart. You own my soul.

Can you help me understand why I left your embrace, crossing over your borders to places far from the rhythm of your waters and the beckoning from your tallest peaks? To live apart from you for all these years?

Like many before me, I moved away but never really left. I grew up in a working class family in a blue-collar town where magnificent mountain ranges surrounded us. In the midst of that splendor we thought we were the richest people on earth.

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Impulsive youth: First passage from ‘Summer of the Black Chevy’

Here I am at our College Avenue house in Deer Lodge, Montana, in 1964. The bow tie suggests it was Easter. My bedroom was behind the tall window. That was a few years before I moved into the bedroom in the garage. (Kevin S. Giles photo)

Here I am at our College Avenue house in Deer Lodge, Montana, in 1964. The bow tie suggests it was Easter. My bedroom was behind the tall window. That was a few years before I moved into the bedroom in the garage. I was about the same age as my Summer of the Black Chevy protagonist, Paul Morrison. (Kevin S. Giles photo)

By Kevin S. Giles

I drove to an alley a few blocks from where Max lived. When I killed the engine the car fell silent with a whimper, sorry to see us go. A big moon emerged over the mountains, shining a great wash of light over our criminal undertaking. Blue wanted to throw the keys in the bushes. I put them on the floorboard beside the gas pedal instead. Maybe Louie would find the Chevy and drive off and forget about me. I’m just a boy.

We slipped to our houses through backyards, under clotheslines and around garages, sometimes hearing a dog’s low growl. When we parted I stuck to the deep shadows. I felt some relief at seeing the porch light burning at my house until I met my mother, a sentry in curlers, waiting at the kitchen table with a look that would set fire to an igloo.

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Montana native remembers his first cars (and motorcycles, and ranch summers)

Earl Cook's pickup

Earl Cook’s blue 1956 Chevy was a familiar sight in Deer Lodge, Montana, and beyond.

By Earl Cook

I am car poor. There are three vehicles in my garage and my wife has her own (x license and insurance). Cars can have addictive properties for guys of my vintage. I particularly like the cars from the 50’s and 60’s, though many new model cars turn my head. Around, and around. “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” No. They make “em” better. And right in-the-face of powerful, practical, cultural change, there is still the desire for additional horsepower and roaring pipes.

When I was 11 years old my Uncle Frank and Aunt Joan invited me to the Helmville (Montana) Valley during the summer months to “work for wages.” I couldn’t do much. Pick

Earl Cook as a boy, presumably a few years before he started driving a farm truck.

Earl Cook as a boy, about the time he started driving a farm truck.

weeds, feed the bum lambs, bring in the milk cow, follow behind Frank and pay attention. He put me in the seat, behind the wheel of a 1942 Willy’s Army surplus jeep. It had a homemade plywood top with removable doors. I was instructed to put the jeep in compound gear, let the clutch out slowly, and steer between the bales of hay, up and down the meadow. He half-walked, half-skipped alongside and bucked bales onto a skid of lodge pole pine. Boy did I think I was somethin’!

When I returned to school in the fall, I was quick to boast to my friends that “I could drive!” My Dad got tired of my requests to back his car out of the garage and ended it with, “not until you have your license.” From that day forward, all I thought about was the day that I would get my driver’s license.

The following summer I was introduced to a Ford tractor and side-delivery rake. Frank mowed hay with a tractor and side-bar sickle. Aunt Joan would cut out “a piece” of ground by making the first pass in Continue reading