LITTLETON -- Mike Boswell remembers the long rides in the dark from Littleton to Plymouth and back, packing as many as 1,500 copies of the Union Leader into whatever his dad, Earl Boswell, happened to be driving at the time.
The trip was the second leg of the nightly journey the printed news made from Manchester to the North Country.
Earl Boswell, the main reason people in New Hampshire’s northernmost reaches got that news each day, would be at the wheel, his son often beside him.
Seven days a week, sometime between 2 and 4 a.m., Earl would meet the Union Leader truck at Clay’s News Stand on Main Street, pack up a big load of black-and-white bundles and head north.
They’d drop some at distributors along the way — Thornton, Lincoln, North Woodstock, Franconia — then meet other drivers at the Boswells’ Ely Street home in Littleton. Those drivers would make more stops and also connect with paperboys. By daybreak, the news would be at customers’ doors.
“They’d go to Pittsburg; there was another route out to Errol, stores, carriers and single deliveries. We covered the North Country. You’d never have a day off,” Mike said Monday, as the family made arrangements following his dad’s death Friday.
Earl agreed in 1955 to deliver the Union Leader and Sunday News, and so he did. When he stopped, sort of, in 1985, Mike took it from there to 2012. That’s nearly 60 years of one family being the Granite State’s news cog between Manchester and the Canadian border. They also helped provide a lot of first jobs for kids in the area delivering papers.
Mike said his mom, Jane, was his dad’s right hand, but his three sisters also worked, including delivering papers around Littleton.
“There was no interstate back when dad started,” Mike said. “You had Route 3. There’d be complete washouts at times. Back then, conservative North Country people believed in Bill Loeb, and later Nacky Loeb, to get them their news. There was no 24-hour news. There was a half hour of news on TV. at night, and that was it. So people really depended on getting their paper,” Mike said.
Mike said his dad’s year-to-year contract agreement with the Union Leader was typical of the way he lived his life.
“Over the years, he left a legacy. When you look someone in the eye and tell them you’re going to do something, you do it. Show me, don’t tell me.
“He was born in 1928, the youngest of four boys in Whitefield. The family didn’t have a lot back then. He was taught if you want to get somewhere, nobody’s going to hand it to you.
“Dad was very loving. He held us all in high regards. But a lot was expected, and you didn’t want to disappoint,” Mike said.
Union Leader and Sunday News Publisher Joe McQuaid said Tuesday that Earl Boswell’s “reputation for delivering our newspaper across the North Country was legendary.
“When his son retired a while ago, he recalled publisher William Loeb telling him that (Mike Boswell) had big shoes to fill from Earl,” McQuaid said.
Mike said Tuesday he recalled that conversation. He said as the family completed arrangements related to his dad’s passing and the publishing of his obituary, he had just one more little detail.
“A lot of people up here are going to be interested in that. I’m going to see if I can get a few extra copies of the paper delivered to the North Country.”