30 September 2012

Sleepy Hollow Paper Boy Delivering by Horseback in 1956

Another interesting recent find in the archives of the Los Angeles Times is a 1 November 1956 article that was some news out of the ordinary.  It started

The age of internal combustion hasn't caught up yet with 14-year old Jim Fitzgerald of Sleepy Hollow.

Jim is the Times carrier boy for this tiny community in rustic Carbon Canyon, between Brea and Chino, and he rides his route by horseback.

The vehicle for this outdated method of delivery was a 9-year old mare named "Quelty" who was described as being "of sorry conformation but sterling character," and called by her owner nothing more than a "stack of bones in a sorrel sack."  Yet, the undersized horse was "a paragon of patience—tough as a yak, immune to the morning could.  And she can pick her way blindfolded through the twists and turns of Jim's canyon route."  An accompanying photo showed the rider and horse near a couple of mailboxes in Sleepy Hollow, as Fitzgerald placed a paper into one of the boxes.

As for her owner, he was a freshman at Brea-Olinda High, a member of the Future Farmers of America and had ambitions to be a cattle raiser.  It would sure be interesting to know what became of Fitzgerald, who would now by about 70.  It was known that he had three sisters and three brothers, with ages ranging from 2 to 15 years of age and that the Fitzgerald family had a menagerie of animals at their home.

Concerning the route, it was noted that "the houses . . . are scattered throughout the cup of Sleepy Hollow, hidden by scrub oak and eucalyptus and connected buy coils of dirt road."  Up before dawn, Fitzgerald dressed, went to the barn to retrieve his faithful steed and "rides down the path to Carbon Canyon Road, where the day's newspapers are dropped off by a truck." 

While the carrier carefully folded his papers into a canvas bag ("teeth chattering," the article added), which was then placed around his head and shoulders, Quelty waited quietly and then Fitzgerald shifted the bag of papers from himself to his partner by standing next to the animal and lifting the bag over his head and over the animal's body.  The 92-pound rider then led the horse to a post which he climbed to give him the means to ascend the (presumably saddle-less) animal.

The article concluded by noting that

As the sun peaks over a bushy hilltop, making long stripes of light and shadow in the sleeping hollow, Jim whacks Quelty amiably on her flank with the tail end of her halter and she waddles off down the road, the boy's legs sticking out and the paper pouches slapping solftly against her bones.

Young D'Artagnan riding out from Gascony to make his way in the world.

It might bear noting that, while issues of the Times are delivered, as everywhere, by car, delivery of a paper copy of the excellent local paper, the Chino Hills Champion, can't be physically delivered at all, but has to be accessed digitally!

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