August 10, 2011


Bill Matteson
Uptown Chicago History Correspondent

I had a newspaper route almost all my life in Uptown
my route was horseshoe shaped starting at Lawrence and Kenmore Ave., South to where Winthrop Ave cuts into
Kenmore, then back north on Winthrop to Lawrence. this was for the Herald American
Then at Sheridan Rd and Leland Ave to Hazel and Back to Sheridan. this was for the Sun Times

We got a penny a paper, per day and a nickel for the Sunday paper, the raw deal we carriers got was in the pay.
We would have to go out in the evening to collect. If no one was home, we had to go back, Later in the evenings, sometimes three or four times.
We would turn in our collection money to the route manager, if we hadn't made all collections , too bad, he would pay us in receipts, forcing us to go back and collect because at that time, it became our money.
If the customer never paid, we were out the money.

One of my customers owned a 6 (maybe 4) flat on Leland Ave right where Hazel T's into it on the north, it was always a well kept building with a beautiful flower bed on both sides of the walk way, leading up to the house.

It was Ma Bakers, a House of Ill Repute. I made my collections on the first floor door on the right, it was the high light of my day, half naked women, what more could a kid ask for?
also at the same time, a squad car from Town Hall , made theirs, they would go in to another room but I was always stopped at the door .I was always given .$1.00 and I got to keep the change as a tip.
I used to wonder what took those Cops so long to collect?

When I was about 14, I was playing the pin ball machines at the Wilson Ave EL Station It was
Summer time, one evening about 7 or 8 PM As I left the station , a group of Sailor's , just off the Skokie Swift train that came in from Great Lakes. A sailor asked if I knew where they could find some girls, I said yes I would walk them over to a place, for a small fee, so I charged them .50 each. I walked them over to Ma Bakers made a $1.50.
I made them wait outside while I walked up and rang the bell, one of the ladies who knew me, answered the door.
I explained the situation to her and she motioned the Sailors in. The following Wednesday when I made my collection,
I was given a two dollar tip and the lady said if I ran into anymore sailors to bring them on by. and she would give me a few bucks for my effort , She also made sure that I understood that the Sailors should be just off the train and not drunk.
So faithfully every weekend night about 6:PM I went to work, I was always home around 9 PM.
That summer from firework sales , news paper route and this part time job I bought myself a new bicycle, a 3 speed Hercules English racer. BBgun Daisey Red Ryder and My mom was now very worried about me, Dad wasn't. as long as I would slip him $10
Bill "the opportunist" Matteson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know how Leland Avenue got it's name? I have a letter collection of the Leland family, Ottawa Illinois, whose father was a founding member of the Republican Party in Illinois that helped propel Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. Could the street be named after that Leland?

Any info would help, thanks!



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