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Centenarian Marion "Buck" Aldrich delivered The Bemidji Daily Pioneer in the early 20th century. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

Centenarian recalls delivering the news

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News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Centenarian recalls delivering the news
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

On a winter day about 90 years ago, a photographer lined up 11 paperboys in front of the Bemidji Daily Pioneer office at Fifth Street and Beltrami Avenue Northwest.


There they stood in their boots, jackets and caps holding newspapers.

The World War I armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, had recently ended the four-year "war to end all wars," and the Pioneer front pages showed pictures of returning troops.

"Near as I can tell, I was 10 years old - It was taken in 1919," said Marion "Buck" Aldrich, one of the paperboys in the photo.

Aldrich, now 100 years old, is partially blind, so he can't pick out which of the boys he is. But he said he was the "smallest and skinniest." That would be the boy third from left in the front row.

"When that picture was taken, I'd just had the flu," Aldrich said, referring to the deadly 1918-1919 influenza pandemic.

He said at the time, three newspapers served Bemidji: the Bemidji Daily Pioneer and two weeklies, the Sentinel and Beltrami County News.

"The Sentinel was the next-door neighbor of the Pioneer," he said.

Aldrich said he and the other paperboys bought the Pioneer for two cents and sold the papers for five cents. He said he did well with customers in Bemidji's many bars at the time, as well as with lumberjacks who would sometimes give him the nickel and hand back the newspaper.

"Most of them couldn't read, anyway," he said.

He also delivered papers along the lakeshore route, Dewey Avenue Northeast and the Carson Addition on the south side of the railroad tracks.

"I think we got $2.50 a week for delivering," he said. "There were enough boys who wanted a job."

Aldrich said the Pioneer publisher, G.E. Carson, maintained at the newspaper office a reading room sponsored by the Crookston Lumber Co. He also took care of the paperboys, providing them with striped bags to tote their papers.

"If you came without any gloves on, he'd take you over to JC Penney just a couple of doors down and say, 'Get some gloves,'" Aldrich recalled.

He said he attended the Old North School and Bemidji High School, about the only places where he was called "Marion."

"Teachers wouldn't call you a nickname," he said. "It started out as Buster. I don't know when they switched it (to Buck) on me."

After he quit delivering papers, Aldrich continued to work for the Pioneer as a "printer's devil," or apprentice. He recalled that the print shop also put out Bemidji's telephone book. However, his main career was in construction with Cyril and Leonard Dickinson's company.

Pioneer staff reports