Three Darlington paperboys recreate their route
By Jana E. Pye, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Two preachers and a pilot came home to Darlington for a mini-class reunion with several of their classmates from the St. John’s High School Class of 1952, and decided it would be fun to ride bicycles through town to recreate their own paper route.
Their class had only 75 graduates, which was a largest class to come through the high school at that point. The meet every five years, but made an exception when they heard the three “paperboys” were coming home.
The group met at Jewel’s restaurant on the Public Square, and the paperboys did a jaunt before lunch and parked their bicycles in front of the bustling restaurant.
Cecil DuRant, retired pilot for Delta Airlines, now lives in Atlanta GA; Dr. Jim Bailey lives in Wilmington, N.C., and Rev. Bobby Boston lives in Charleston, S.C.
The St. John’s Class of 1952 was known as the smartest class to ever come through St. John’s, with a record number of 27 of the class earning their graduate degrees.
They recalled that the first person in their class earned her master’s degree by the age of 16, and that classmate Mack Edwards was the smartest man that any of them had ever met- getting his degree at MIT at age 16 first in his class; after medical school, he went on to be the Dean of the Medical School at Temple University.
They recalled other students that went on to receive their Ph.Ds and went on to illustrious careers- men like Dick Wallace and Toby Davis, among others that I couldn’t hear past the clatter of dishes of their delicious lunch plates.
DuRant went all through the 9th grade with the students, and then went off to military school. “They let me come back,” he said with a wide grin.
Cora Taylor recalled that they had a lot of plays in their class, and that Hermon Williams was the best musician.
The football and baseball teams were deemed “fair” by Bailey, and added, “We tried.”
DuRant flew for Delta Airlines for 38 years; his pal Rev. Bobby Boston shared a story about him:
“He was flying and had an affair with a stewardess,” said Boston. “And of course they fell in love and wanted to get married. They couldn’t- you couldn’t marry a stewardess, it was against the law. So he flew to Charleston, I was a minister there, and I married them secretly. They came back every year and took my wife and me to supper.”
“It’s amazing how well you remember your paper route,” said DuRant. “Only the buildings are gone.
The men delivered the morning papers, beginning at 5:00 a.m.
Boston told me that he and DuRant delivered the State newspaper, and Bailey delivered the Charlotte Observer.
“The big hotel over there was my first shot,” said Bailey, pointing to the empty lot on the corner of Orange and Main Streets. “I carried 20 papers and set them on the counter to start out with. That was a good customer.”
DuRant said he’d recreated the route “about two other times”
Bailey said,” Spot Mozingo’s house is still there, that was the biggest thing that ever happened in Darlington- the murder of Red Watts. I remember delivering that paper that morning. There was a wrap on the papers and remembering looking on there getting the paper at 5 in the morning, and seeing in big letters ‘Lawyer in Darlington murdered’ – I was a Methodist and he taught Sunday School there. I was 17-18 when that happened –it was our senior year in high school.”
I asked if they had any customers that were hard to track down to pay for their papers back then.
“No, the paper was 35 cents a week,” recalled DuRant. “But a lot of people didn’t have 35 cents.”
“Oh, but there were some,” said Bailey. “There was one man here in town that was really frugal. I’d have to chase him down for months to get him to pay. He had more money than anybody but he didn’t even hardly eat, and had no electricity.”
He shared more details on the gentleman and recalled his name, but admonished, “Just don’t put that in the paper.”
As they rode off for their second ride of the day, the trio all had grins from ear to ear.
If you want to know the secret to living a healthy life, take it from these three fellas…ride a bike!