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Issue Date: September 2012


Erick Trickey

On the first day of their strike — June 10, 1940 — newsboys on Detroit Avenue scattered copies of the day's Cleveland Press in front of the West 65th Street streetcar lines. About 400 corner vendors went on strike against Cleveland's three daily papers, insisting the Newsboys' Union should also represent some of the 10,000 home-delivery carriers. The schoolboys were bound by contracts between their parents and the newspapers, a situation the union lawyer called "involuntary servitude."

West 65th and Detroit was as vibrant a corner then as it is now, with a dry cleaner for hats, a beauty shop and a diner selling 5-cent pies in the building where two home furnishing stores and a boutique do business today. The sign above the newsboys pointed to the Capitol Theatre, showing The House Across the Bay, about a woman whose gambler husband was railroaded into Alcatraz.

The paper-trashing party looks carefree, but the edition strewn in the street reported bleak news. "Italy Enters War," a headline read. "If Cleveland Were Paris," said another, "Nazis Would Be in Lorain."

The strike was over by summer's end. A city council committee voted in August to rescind a strike-time ban on street-corner newspaper sales, giving the newsboys a chance to work again.

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