“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
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.
“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.