Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

When Newsstands in America Faded Away, Just Like the Herds of Buffalo…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob at 4:59 pm on Thursday, February 11, 2021

by Robert M. Katzman © February 10, 2021

Saw an old Chicago Sun-Times

Dated Christmas Day

December 25, 1983

“Chicago Bitter Cold

Breaks 100-Year-Old Record!

80 Below Zero!!”


Once-Famed Bob’s Newsstand

In Chicago’s

Old Hyde Park

was still open

On that frigid day

And I sold that

Cold newspaper

By myself


Picked up the bundles

Thrown off the truck

By the Driver

Counted the newspapers

To make sure none

Had been stolen

By those Drivers

As was the ancient pattern

While the aging

Simmering Truck Driver

Watched me

Two old adversaries

Trapped in their pattern


Cut the tight plastic band

Surrounding each bundle

–Wire long ago abandoned

By the four Chicago Presses–

Sliced with the

Razor-sharp Buck Knife

Hanging in a worn leather holster

On my hip

Last City in America

That still had four newspapers a day


Stacked them up inside

of the

Now brick building

Because the old

Outside Wooden Newsstand

Was long closed

as the

Changing Times



Then I rang up

Occasional sales

on my

Plastic cash register

Stiff canvas change belts

With their three stitched pockets

For Nickels/Dimes/Quarters

Extinct by then

Just like the once

Enormous and heavy

Metal cash registers


Gone too were the crowds

The endless rows of

Impatient cars

Shimmering waves of heated air

Rising above their Engines

New York Times addicts

All those young kids

Swiftly selling those

Once upon a Time

Thousands of powerful

Chicago Newspapers

Bulging with

Advertising Supplements


All over America

The Newsstands were closing

Old Men

Old Women


Customers for Printed News



Because so much like the

Vast black herds of Buffalo

and the

Many Indian Tribes:



Kiowa…Lakota Sioux

Whose Horse-Culture

Depended on them


Our time as

Hustling News-Agents

Selling what

Powerful Newspaper Publishers

Decided was

Important to Know

Was just about over


Comparing my brick

Urban Newsstand

to brown and faded

Old West Images?


Not such an


Romantic Fantasy

A thousand miles

From the Atlantic Ocean

A long drive by Oxen

in a jolting

Conestoga Wagon

Illinois was once

“The West”


James Butler Hickok

“Wild Bill Hickok”

Born in Illinois



Wyatt Earp

The “Gunfight at the OK Corral” man

Born in Illinois



Bat Masterson

Dodge City, Kansas

Gunfighter and Sheriff

Lived in Illinois


Gen. Custer’s Top Scout

Charley Reynolds

Born in Illinois

Died at Little Big Horn


Charley Goodnight

Owner of a million acre 

Texas Ranch

Born in Illinois


William Quantrill

Leader of the Murderous

Civil War Raiders

Taught school in Illinois


After a Time

Good or Bad

Everything fades away

Ask any kid in 

Any Middle School

Who the hell was the

Traitor: General Benedict Arnold?

Hero: Sgt Alvin York?

Will they know?


Eighteen months


Four days later

after that

Chicago Sun-Times

was printed:

July 29, 1985

Two Decades Old

Bob’s Newsstand

Like an old wrinkled newspaper

Faded away into history



Then 35

With my

Vast knowledge of


Kerosene Lanterns

For Light

Kerosene Stoves

For Heat


How to find


Newspapers and Magazines

From all over the World?


I was unemployed


Two long, long years

Time losing meaning for me

I had these

Very specific talents


No one needed



Yep, I was obsolete

I had never


What Hell was like

Until I’d been there






So very cold



Comment by Jan

February 11, 2021 @ 6:44 pm

I liked it .Sad to because everything changes and to often not to the good. Hope your staying warm and not to lonely

Comment by Brad Dechter

February 12, 2021 @ 6:07 am

Yes, it is cold!
All sorts of things and ideas do evolve on a daily basis. Some call it progress, others call it obsolete. Heaven for some- hell for others. As we get older I tend to believe personally it’s less heaven and more hell. Even our Republic is evolving- I hope towards democracy versus a continuous, long term grab for power.
That is hell as we live it.

Comment by R J REGAN

July 25, 2021 @ 3:15 pm

I was very taken by this short story. I was born in 1944 in Germany and was cared for in a German, later American, field hospital. Took 5 years to get to Chicago and lived in St Josephs Orphanage and a few foster homes. Before I could drive I raked leaves, carried and bagged groceries, mowed lawns, and later had a morning and afternoon paper route. I was a hustler from day one. Lived at 79th and Stoney Island. I was sent to reform school, in Searcy Arkansas for hitting a pervert priest in the head in the middle of the night when he woke me by fondling me and I hit him in the head with my work boot. Paroled after two years and was sent to a Catholic Military academy in Kansas. After that it was 23 years in the Army and finally college. Degree is Banking and Finance. Now retired out in the remote Nevada Desert. Life is good. Life in Chicago in the 50’s was tough but made me a man earlier than most.

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