Post Newsboys: Still Riding!

Meet 90-year-old Gordon Thorpe, who was a Post newsboy in the 1930s, and who keeps on riding today.

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“Way back in 1934 and ’35 when I was a restless kid of 13 and 14, I had a Saturday Evening Post route,” e-mailed Gordon Thorpe.

“The magazine came out every week, and I would pick up my bundle at the grocery store after school,” Gordon wrote of his newsboy days. “Some unknown, out-of-sight person had dropped these off earlier. I would guess I had 20 to 25 copies in the bundle. There was an equal number of customers waiting for me to hop on my bicycle and pedal perhaps three miles to cover the route. I liked that. Each copy sold for five cents. My profit came out of that.”

“The Nursemaid” by Norman Rockwell
“The Nursemaid” from October 24, 1936
Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Gordon had early memories of the magazine. “I can remember my mother tearing off the covers of The Saturday Evening Post over the years — those illustrated by Norman Rockwell, and saving them. She told me, ‘Gordon, each one of these pictures has a complete story within them and you don’t need to read a single word.'”

Today, Mr. Thorpe resides in North Carolina where he loves to take his bike out on the American Tobacco Trail, so named as a tribute to the area’s agricultural and commercial heritage. Many of the cyclists have grown accustomed to seeing Gordon and enjoy stopping to chat with him. He used to ride the trail with his wife, but sadly, he lost her in September. Determined to stay active, Gordon says, “I get up and go by myself now.” The World War II veteran also swims a mile every morning.

Gordon’s bike is a Trek 4700 hybrid his family presented to him on his 80th birthday. An article on the Rails to Trials Conservancy website describes what his supportive family did for his 90th:

“I had no idea,” Gordon says. “We were out on the trail together, and I say, “Look, they’ve put a new bench in.” So my son says, ‘Why don’t we stop?’ I started reading the little bronze plaque, and that’s when I realized.” Reading the inscription aloud, Thorpe seems genuinely touched by the gesture to build the seat, which took months of careful planning between the family and county workers.

“That’s the part I like best: ‘keep on riding,'” Thorpe says.

“I still subscribe to The Saturday Evening Post,” he says, “and when I am through with each issue I send it to my daughter.”

His delivery days were over within two or three years. “When I reached 15, my interest changed from The Saturday Evening Post to girls.”

Keep on riding, Gordon!

Know a former Post newsboy? We would love to feature them on our website! Email Diana Denny.

Photos provided by Gordon’s son, Jim Thorpe.

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  1. Gordon, this is for you. I re-read your story today for inspiration and was so glad to see YOUR response here. As for Ms. Denny, I agree 100%. She definitely brings the stories to life of the Post covers, the many unheralded illustrators who painted them, and people like YOU who actually delivered the magazine. No stone left unturned. What a gal indeed!

  2. Ms. D. Denny is a very professional journalist. She was easy to work with and has a knack with bringing a story to life. What a gal!!!!

  3. Mr. Thorpe’s story brought back memories of delivering the Saturday Evening Post in Ashland, Wisconsin, on the south shore of Lake Superior, during the depression years of 1933-1936 on a balloon tired bike my mother bought for me on time payments of a dollar a week. It was a wonderful experience for a boy not yet a teenager, fun in the Summer, but hard work in the Winter when the weather was often below zero and the snowstorms made biking impossible. It took me hours to cover my route on foot but I never missed a delivery. I continued riding my bike until I graduated from UCLA in 1948. Now at age 90 I have had to give up my Trek rides due to neuropathy, but am still subscribe to my favorite magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, which I read from cover to cover every week.

  4. What a great story of a great man, all tied in with The Saturday Evening Post. I’m sorry he lost his wife last year, but am very glad he continues his bicycle treks along the ‘Trail’ along with his swimming every morning. Really wonderful.

    He has a great family too. What a thoughful thing they did last November for his 90th birthday with the little plaque. I loved reading about his Post boy routine too. 20-25 copies of that hefty magazine was a workout in its self. No doubt he was anxious to get ’em delivered fast; at least the first half. I totally agree with his comment that the cover told a whole story–no words required. I think Gordon has a great chance to make it to 100 and beyond. Go Gordon!

  5. Awesome story about Mr. Thorpe – what a loving family gesture! I just love this magazine.


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