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Edison as a Newsboy.

' 'At Me betrinninir of the civil war,' said Mr Kdison, 4I was slaving late and early 1 at selling papers '; but, to tell the truth, I was not making a fortune., I worked on so small a margin that I had to be careful not to overload myself with papers that I could not sell, On the other hand, I could not afford to carry so few that I should find Htiyself sold out long before the end' oft^he. trip. To enable myself to hit the happy mean,'. I, formed, a - plajt • which turned out^ admirably. I made a friend of one of the compositors in the " Free Press" office, and persuaded him to show me every day a ' galley proof of the most important news article. From a study of its headlines I soon learned to guage the value of the day's news and its selling capacity, so that I could form a tolerably correct estimate of the number of papers I should need. '.. As a rule T could dispose of about 200 ; but if thon; wa« »ny P"P°c^l news from' the seat of v..»" .'•■ ■ -'ili' v." ip to 300 or over. Wtill, one day my compositor brought me :i proof slip of which nearly the whole was taken up with a gigantic display of headings. It was the first report of the battle of Pittsburg Landing—afterwards called Shiloh, you know—and it gave the number of killed and wounded as 60,000 men! ' ? , S \

' I grasped the situation at once. Here was a chance for enormous sales, if only the, people along the line could know what had ' :■■ :■■ 1 ; V ■••';. 'r ■ ;. could see the prooJ ■■ I ■■■ i"■ _-■-■• _-"!. Suddenly an idea occurred to me. 1 rushed off to the telegraph operator and gravely made a proposition to him, which he received just as gravely. He, on his part, was to wire to each of the principal /stations on our route, asking the . stationmaster- to chalk up' on the black' bulletin-board— 'used'-'v mi-v-'.rv" l.'-'r i! ■vi""es of arrival and ■".«[>"■ :i > ■:' ": ■!■.■ 'Ivhews of the great tbattlc, with its accompanying slaughter. *' ■'- This he was to' do at once ; while I agreed, in. return, to supply him 'free ;:r^\~. *■•*■ p-M^n::. 1 with a Harper's Week";.. .' !lvp r> M- n !,!\. and a daily eveniri'.: :■■.'-.■!■ >\-:\ '■.■.■; :' ■■ >io\t six months from tilal Clctua. ' ''

' This bargain struck, I began to think me how I was to get' enough papers to make the grand coup, I intended. I had very little cash, and, I_feared, still less credit, I went to the superintendent of the delivery department and proffered a modest request for 1000 copies of the Free Press on trust. But I was not much surprised when "ly ro^n^t woivtly arrl 'gruffly refused. i:> ih-i-' •! iv -. •I".;i.!i I was a pretty cheeky boy, and 1 saw a small fortune in prospect if my telegraph operator had kept his word—a point on which I was a trifle doubtful. Nerving myself for a great stroke, I marched upstairs in to the office, of the manager, and aske,d \,a $pg him, A few minutes later I was shown' into him. I told him who I was and that I wanted fifteen hundred copies of the paper on credit. The tall thin, dark-eyed, ascetic-looking ma.n 'stared at me for a moment^ and then scratched a few words on a piece of paper. 'Take that downstairs,'- said he, you will get what you want.* And so I did. Then I felt happier th.as I have ever *»]*• "ir^e. 1 -

I- ■"; :">■ I-V^i ;•■:.■■■(,: ■>. got three boys to help "■'" \' '••'■ ■••'■■ '■'■■■ ;t'l(i mounted the train,, all agog to find out whether the telegraph operator had kept his word. At. the ;tpwn r,where, our .first stop. was v made I usually sold two papers; 'As the train swung into that station I Rooked ahead arid thought t}\era must be a. riot going on. A big crowd filled the platform, and as the train drew up I began to realize' that they., wanted my papers, Before we left I hfid sojd a hundred or two at five cents apiece. At. the next station the place was fairly black with people. I raised the ante, and sold 300 papers at ten cents each. So it went on until Port Huron was reached. Then I transferred my remaining stock to the waggon which always waited for m,§ hired asmall.boy to sjt p^itiio riTe r.f ynr-r-r« in the back of the waggon, ■■■«.v-1 > <li-. i--iiii 1. any pilfering,' and sold' out every paper I had at a quarter of a dollar or more per copy. I remember I passed a church full of worshippers, and stepped; to, yell out my news. In ten sec.onds i^er.e was. not a soiv| left in meeting. AH gf them, including the parson, clustered aroims me., bidding against each other for copies of the precious paper. * You can understand why it struck me then that the telegraph must be abouttha ■best thing going, for it was^U\e, telegraph notices on,, the h.u.Hetin board that had don.o. the trick". I determined at once to become a telegraph operator. • But if it hadn't been for, the Press I should, nover have fully appreciated the wonders of electrical science^ " .'

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900425.2.13

Bibliographic details

Edison as a Newsboy., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2410, 25 April 1890

Word Count
867

Edison as a Newsboy. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2410, 25 April 1890

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