SPOILIN' THE BROTH
T his is a column about a neat family, a car that became a classic, and a service this newspaper once offered that, because this neat family grew up, became impossible to maintain.
The family is the George and Chris Wall family, including their sons George Jr. and Keith and daughter Diane.
The car, you no doubt by now have noticed at the right, is a 1957 Belair two-door hardtop, now a most coveted of classics.
The service this newspaper once offered was home delivery subscriptions, begun by Reporter employee Claude Robinson in the early 1950s. Mr. Robinson went on to a career in government intelligence service.
Other carriers took over the home delivery and then the Wall family handled it from 1964 until 1972.
The Reporter’s press day, until 1972, was Thursday. Home-delivery had been started to get the paper to subscribers a day earlier than mail subscriptions which, with a Thursday press day, didn’t arrive until Friday.
By the time the Wall children graduated, minimum wage had gone up to the point youngsters could make more money at jobs requiring less time and record keeping than a paper route.
Thus, we moved our press day to Wednesday, so mail-delivered Reporters arrived the same day as had home delivery. Post office box holders even got theirs on Wednesday afternoons.
A family affair
George Wall Sr., who worked at Alcoa, and my father, the late Reporter Publisher W. H. Cooke, were friends on a steering committee that helped establish Rockdale Countr y Club, and they were fellow Methodists. Dad happened to mention the 1964 home delivery opening to George Sr. who saw an opportunity for his kids.
Following are oldest son George Wall Jr.’s recollections:
“Our family got the paper route when I was 11 years old, a sixthgrader. We took over an established route from a graduating senior, Billy Rogers.
“My mother, Chris, would pick me up from school on Thursdays and drop me off at The Reporter. I would start rolling, banding and boxing 225 to 250 papers that were to be delivered. When my dad, George Sr., arrived home from Alcoa, he would pick me up at The Reporter and we’d start our 90-minute route.
“My dad would drive and throw out the left side of our car and I threw out the right side. After I received my driver’s license in 1967, I took over dad’s job as driver and left-side thrower and my brother Keith took my side.
“When I graduated from RHS in 1970 and left for college, Keith took over the route and our sister Diane took his position. It was truly a family affair.”
George Sr. had bought the ‘57 Chevy in San Antonio. George Jr. remembers that it was easy to throw papers from both the front and back seat since the hardtop had no window center posts.
In 1967, George Sr. traded in the ‘57 Chevrolet on a 1965 Impala, striking a deal with Ernie Miller at Miller Chevrolet-Buick.
George Jr. remembers:
“I convinced my dad to let me buy the ‘57 back from Mr. Miller, promising to take good care of it. For $300, I was the proud owner of the ‘57, and in 1970 I took it off to Southwest Texas State in San Marcos (now Texas State).
“ That ‘57 was stolen out of my dormitory parking lot and it broke my heart. I vowed some day to own another.
“In 2005, after retiring, I got serious about it, searching the Internet and finally buying one that was restored and owned by a collector in Weatherford. It’s the same color, too, as the first ‘57.”
George Jr. said his car’s first outing was to the Rockdale Fair’s Classic Car Show in October, 2010 and it was awarded the parade’s overall Best Antique Car and first in the Classic Car category.
“With this car, unlike my first one, I am able to afford theft insurance and a security system managed by Smith & Wesson,” he joked.
Both George Jr. and brother Keith commented on lessons learned on a paper route.
In 1964, the paper cost 10 cents retail. “I purchased the papers at 7 cents wholesale,” George Jr. said. “A home-delivery subscription was $1.40 in advance for three months. Cost to the subscriber was about 12 cents a copy, with 5 cents profit for me. From my profit, I covered gasoline and rubber band expense. I collected subscription fees on Saturdays. I sold home delivery subscriptions for 3, 6 and 12-months. It resulted in a balanced cash/expense flow because each Thursday I would owe The Reporter for the papers I purchased. It was profitable but I had to work for it. I learned communication skills, discipline, organization, responsibility and money management.”
Keith concurred. “ This was my first experience in a commercial (capitalist) system and I learned three important things: 1. My personal choices affect my destiny; 2. Working as a team strengthens a family; 3. Business success requires communication skills. I thank my father, brother and the paper, for the opportunity to learn some lessons for life.”
A little ‘hotdogging’
Sister Diane also has recollections of those Thursdays:
“Most of my memories were in the preparation stage. I believe I was about 6 years old when it all began for my brother George. Picking up the stacks of papers from the back alley always amazed me. The sounds and speed of the press rollers are still very vivid to me.
“ I do remember hav ing to stay out of the way much of the time, but then began the time when I could help with rolling and rubber banding the papers. We would line the green rubber bands up our arms, fold, roll, and snap those rubber bands on.
“All of our hands would be black from the ink and mom was very serious about not touching anything until we washed it all off. Rainy days were ‘all-handson deck’ as the plastic wrappers had to be used. Funny how rain happened more than not on Thursdays.
“When I did have the occasional opportunity to ride the route, I was amazed at how those papers were flung out the windows with such precision to land on driveways. Sometimes George or Keith would hotdog it by throw- ing over the top of the truck to the opposite side.”
Retired Alcoan George Wall Sr. and wife Chris still live in Rockdale in the same house where they raised their children, 2108 Post Oak.
George Jr., who holds a bachelor of science degree in education from Texas State and a master’s from Sul Ross in Alpine, is retired from a teaching/coaching career in Rocksprings, Rankin and Devine. He and wife Martha reside in Devine, have three daughters, two grandsons (and another on the way).
Keith Wall holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State and has worked the past 21 years for Texaco Refining and currently Shell Downstream. He is a global business systems IT manager for Shell Retail. He and wife Patricia have four sons and reside in Huntsville.
Diane Wall Galownia and her husband Paul reside in Spring. He is employed with an oil company and she, also a Sam Houston State grad, is a fifth-grade reading teacher in the Conroe ISD. They have two sons, one who just completed high school and the other a college senior.