Walt Grayson headshot
By Walt Grayson
February 2023

Working at a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper.

black and white photo of boy on bike delivering newspapersThere are instances from my childhood that I vividly remember. One of them is when I was a paperboy for the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville.

Just an aside, I have let it slip into the conversation more than once that I was at the Delta Democrat Times during the Hodding Carter days. Association with a Pulitzer Prize-winning publication elevates your stature in literary circles. Usually, I go on and tell them that my position was a paperboy.

However, sometimes I let comments like that just ride. Sort of like at a wedding where I agreed to perform the ceremony. (Yes, I can legally marry folks, but would rather the couples’ pastor have the honors. After all, it’s the minister’s job to shepherd the family.) Anyway, years ago I agreed to perform the wedding for a reporter at WLBT and her fiancé. When we had finished and the couple had kissed, the guests started milling into the reception. A lady came up to me and said hello. Puzzled, she asked me, “How is it you can officiate a wedding?” Most people know me from television. So, with a straight face, I answered, “Why, in Mississippi, weathermen can marry folks.” I should have told her I was kidding but she obviously took it for the truth. I didn’t want to her to think weathermen lied. So, I just left it at that.

I should have told her I worked for a Pulitzer-winning newspaper, too. I’ll keep that in mind.

Anyway, back to what I remember from my newspaper career. Daddy was very helpful with my paper route. My bundle of papers was dropped at my house midafternoon. Then I would roll the papers and snug them with a rubber band. In bad weather, instead of me having to deliver the papers riding my bike, daddy would take me in the car.

One windy February day I had run out of rubber bands and the paper was too thick to fold into a square and toss like a frisbee. So, I had to carry each paper up to every house and lay it on the porch or the steps.

But there was this one house where I put the paper down with the open side toward the wind. The paper blew all over the yard. As we picked it up, daddy said for me to lay it with the folded side into the wind. He added, “There’s an art to everything.”

I’ve remembered what he told me that day a lot. While I’m shooting photographs or video for a story. Or editing and trying to get it just right. Sometimes it takes a little longer, but there really is an art to everything.

Something else my paper route has done for me. Instead of having to make up that “walking to school in the snow” stuff, I tell my grandkids, “Why, I’ve been working since I was 11. And my very first job was for a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper!” And it’s the truth!

Category: Mississippi Seen

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